Fla. DOH was ready to drop significant charge against dentist in patient death investigation

Investigations

Tommy Myers stopped breathing in a dentist’s chair after he was sedated by Dr. Veronica Thompson.

His parents are angry that the Florida Department of Health is playing “Let’s Make a Deal” with the dentist rather than take her license. 

Tommy, a 39-year-old special needs patient born with Down Syndrome, visited Grand Dentistry in New Port Richey in September 2014.

The Department of Health found Dr. Thompson administered sedation at what it says was four times the maximum safe dose for a healthy adult.

When Tommy coded, Dr. Thompson told the Board of Dentistry at a May 2017 hearing she had no warning.

“It all happened quickly. 911 came very, very quickly,” Dr. Thompson explained.

What hasn’t happened quickly is any form of discipline.  

An investigator for the DOH found Dr. Thompson made mistake after mistake before, during and after Tommy’s treatment.

The Board of Dentistry voted to revoke Dr. Thompson’s license, but lawyers for the DOH seem more interested in negotiating a settlement instead of litigating for her license.

Tommy’s mother, Maureen Myers, accuses the state of taking the easy way out.

“They don’t want to prosecute her. They want to just fine her. They want to charge her for legal fees, send her back to school so that she can learn how to do what she should have known how to do in the beginning,” Maureen said.

In one proposed settlement, the state offered to drop one of its most serious findings, that Dr. Thompson performed deep sedation on Tommy without a state required permit.

Dr. Thompson contends Tommy received moderate or conscious sedation.

“You know this is nowhere close to conscious sedation, this is deep sedation,” said Dr. Carl Melzer, who reviewed the case as part of a Probable Cause Panel for the Board of Dentistry.

 “They billed me for deep sedation and I paid it,” Tommy’s father, Gary Myers, stated.

“There’s no way in the world by any stretch of anyone who has anesthesia knowledge that this was anything other than deep sedation,” Dr. Melzer told attorneys for the state during a September 2018 Probable Cause Panel hearing.  

“This board voted to take her license. She gets a repreive, but she doesn’t even get suspended. so she’s still practicing for another three years. I don’t think that’s right,” Maureen added.

The Probable Cause Panel rejected the DOH proposal to drop the deep sedation permit charge.  

The state’s efforts to avoid revocation through litigation with a concession filled settlement continue.

If you have know of something that you think should be investigated, contact our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1-800-338-0808. Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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