Vancouver dentists charged with incompetence after 4-year-old boy's death

Mykel Peterson (Courtesy Peterson family)

KATU News has learned two Vancouver dentists have been charged with incompetence following a 4-year-old boy's death last year.

Mykel Peterson was undergoing a routine dental procedure at Must Love Kids Dentistry on March 10, 2017. Anesthesiologist Chester Hu put Mykel to sleep because he was squirmy during a previous dental visit.

READ MORE: Mom says 4-year-old son passed away after being put to sleep during dental procedure

"He was just saying how he gave him just a little extra dosage to make sure he didn't wake up through the procedure," Curry said of what the anesthesiologist told her.

Mykel's mother Thmeka Curry told KATU News her son never woke up after the procedure. He was hospitalized and later pronounced dead.

Earlier this week, Hu was charged with incompetence in connection with the incident. Must Love Kids dentists Monisha Gagneja and Prashant Gagneja were also charged with incompetence this week.

Must Love Kids sent the following statement to KATU News this week:

“This tragic incident has been devastating for the dentists and staff of Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry. It’s unfortunate that the Commission has made a public statement of allegations against the dentists who were not even involved in the dental care of the patient on March 10, 2017. The Commission seems confused about the facts. We strongly disagree and refute all allegations by the Commission.

Dr. Monisha Gagneja was not present in the dental office on the day of the medical complication after anesthesia, which was being provided by an independent contractor, Dr. Chester Hu, on March 10, 2017. Dr. Prashant Gagneja, trained and certified in Pediatric Advance Life Support (PALS) helped the anesthesiologist and the medical assistant when he was asked to assist in the emergency situation till the EMS arrived, even though he was not involved in the dental or medical care of the patient.

It is very important to understand the Commission’s allegation is based on a technicality only, that the agreement between the clinic and the independent anesthesiologist company, though it met the state requirement, was not in written form,” the doctors said. “The undisputed fact is, our clinic and the anesthesiologist company had a very clear agreement as to the delineation of responsibilities. The independent contractor anesthesiologist agrees they were responsible for all aspects of the anesthesiology services, including the monitoring and recovery of our patient.

In fact, our agreement operated with the same clarity and purpose that the State requires. Though a very tragic outcome, at no time during the procedure would the presence of a contract have changed the outcome of the patient’s care, which was under direct supervision of a board-certified anesthesiologist.

As the Washington Medical Quality Assurance Commission found in its statement of January 31, the independent anesthesiologist, Dr. Hu, was responsible for the recovery from anesthesia of our clinic’s patient following completion of a dental procedure, and he failed to meet the standard of care in that recovery.

The doctors noted that there are times when the use of general anesthesia is necessary to provide quality dental care for children. For context on this practice, consider that Must Love Kids® is one of the largest pediatric dentistry providers in Clark County, with over 36,000 pediatric patient visits in the last four and a half years. During that period, the clinic has performed dentistry for pediatric patients under deep sedation and general anesthesia more than 2,200 times without incident.

"The tragic incident on March 10, 2017 was heartbreaking and devastating to the dentists and staff at our dental office, who are devoted exclusively to the needs of children,” they said. “We at Must Love Kids® Pediatric Dentistry are passionate about and take the utmost care of our patients and their families, and provide the highest standard of care in a safe environment. We will continue our devotion to providing the best care to our patients.”

The clinic founders, Dr. Monisha Gagneja and Dr. Prashant Gagneja, are board-certified pediatric dentists with 30 years in the practice of pediatric dentistry. They have treated several hundred patients in the presence of an anesthesiologist when needed at out-patient facilities and in various hospitals as well. Both dentists have devoted their lives in ensuring the highest standard of care in pediatric dentistry in the safest environment of all children."

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