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State opens investigation into Vancouver 4-year-old's death after dental procedure

The Washington State Department of Health is opening an investigation into a 4-year-old boy's death following a visit to a Vancouver dental office.

The boy's mother said her son died after a routine dental procedure on Friday, March 10.

The Clark County Medical Examiner's Office said it will be six to eight weeks before toxicology results reveal the cause of the child's death.


The story:

Thmeka Curry said her son died after a visit to Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry in Vancouver.

"The appointment he had previous he didn't really cooperate that well with keeping his mouth open," Curry explained "It was a lot of kicking and screaming."

Curry said the dentist suggested sedating her son, which she agreed to.

But she said on Friday they did it differently.

"The other time he was put to sleep he used the mask but this time he got the shot," Curry said. "Eventually, the anesthesiologist guy came in and, you know, he was just saying how he gave him just a little bit extra dosage to just kind of make sure he didn't wake up through the procedure."

Curry said initially she wasn't sure what work the dentist would be doing.

"And then after he was asleep she came out and she says, 'This is what I ended up doing was a couple of crowns and then he had some other stuff that was happening,'" Curry said.

After the procedure, Curry said Peterson didn't wake up as quickly as he was supposed to. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital where he passed away.

Now Curry wants answers.

“I just need to know what happened so I can have that closure for my son," she said. "That’s it.”

Through a Washington State Department of Health database, KATU looked up the three doctors named on the dental office's website and found that each of them has current credentials with no past reports of enforcement actions.

On Monday, the practice released a statement saying in part:

"We have performed dentistry for pediatric patients under deep sedation and general anesthesia more than 1,900 times without incident in the last three and half years in Vancouver. We contract with an independent, highly qualified and experienced board-certified anesthesiologist for anesthesia services who follow strict protocols, including a pre-operative checkup and clearance by the child's primary physician prior to the procedure."

Neither the state health department nor the dental office would tell KATU the name of the anesthesiologist.

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