The University of Iowa dental clinic has come forward admitting to medical malpractice, revealing they have accidentally overdosed almost 120 children with nitrous oxide, commonly identified as laughing gas. Patients who received pediatric dentistry treatment at the University of Iowa dental clinic between March 1 and April 20 received too much nitrous oxide. It is still unknown if the children risk suffering any long-term health effects.
A university representative claimed the nitrous oxide system tubing was incorrectly labeled, and the tubes carrying nitrous oxide and oxygen were switched. University officials say this happened during a recent remodeling when a contract worker accidently switched the tubing while installing the system. This was overlooked by the supervisor who inspected the installation. On March 1, 2016, the pediatric clinic opened and then discovered the problem on April 20, 2016, immediately discontinuing the use of nitrous oxide.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry allows the use of the gas on children who are undergoing lengthy procedures and have issues with being anxious or have gag reflexes. The standard use and dose of the gas on patients is a solution containing 30 to 40 percent nitrous oxide. Patients should then receive 100 percent oxygen for five minutes once the flow of nitrous oxide has stopped to help flush the gas from the lungs and return the patient to an alert state.
It is an alarming mistake that the university had switched the tubes during the procedure, giving children 5 minutes of straight nitrous oxide. The University of Iowa dental clinic sent letters to affected families urging them to call with any questions and schedule an appointment for follow-up care if needed. The Associate Dean for patient care states the university is being very cautious and proactive. The dental school informed families so that they could seek the appropriate evaluation and treatment, if necessary. Officials are currently unaware of what any long-term effects may come to light. No other university dental clinics were affected, and the system at the pediatric clinic has since been certified as safe to use.
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