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Suit faults dentist for girl's death

Parents: Drugs were too much for child

By Elaine Bennett and Prakash Gandhi

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS - An 8-year-old girl who collapsed in August at a dentist's office and died a day later had received excessive dosages of drugs and gas, the child's parents claimed Tuesday in a lawsuit.

The suit flied in Seminole Circuit Court accuses dentist Dwight T. Barron of Altamonte Springs of negligence in the Aug. 17 death of Jennifer Crenshaw. Her parents, Barbara and Scott Crenshaw, are seeking more than $10,000 in damages.

Barbara Crenshaw of Altamonte Springs said she sued to highlight what she described as lax controls on use of anesthetics in dental offices.

"It is something people don't imagine when they go to a dentist," Crenshaw said. "You expect them to know what they are doing."

Barron declined to comment Tuesday. One of his attorneys, Clay Parker, said Barron has "genuine anguish and concern" over Jennifer's death and for her family, but denies any liability in the case.

Parker declined to comment on the parents' allegations because that would be "trying the suit in the press."

The results of the child's autopsy have not been released.

A Seminole County sheriff's detective has investigated the case for several months and is expected to finish his report soon. The state attorney's office then will determine whether criminal violations were involved.

Jennifer, who was about to start second grade at Spring Lake Elementary School, went into convulsions Aug. 16 at Barron's office on Douglas Avenue after being medicated for removal of eight baby teeth.

After several attempts by the dentist and nurse to revive the girl, she was taken to Florida Hospital Altamonte, then taken by helicopter to Florida Hospital Orlando, where she went into a coma.

Jennifer died the next morning.

According to the suit, the child received anesthetics in dosages unsafe for a child. In addition, one drug given to counteract an anesthetic was two years past its expiration date, the suit claimed.

Other allegations dealt with procedures in Barron's office.

According to the suit, the office lacked full face masks to help deliver oxygen to patients or proper equipment to monitor the pulse and rate of oxygen going into Jennifer's bloodstream.

Barron also had no written instructions for employees to follow during an emergency, the suit said.

Three of Barron's dental assistants had not completed a course required by the American Dental Association on pain and anxiety in dentistry, and one assistant had no formal training in dentistry, the suit claims.

According to the suit, 38 minutes elapsed between the time Jennifer first showed signs of distress and when medical help was called.

No hearing on the lawsuit has been set, but the Crenshaws' attorney, Russell Troutman predicted the case would go to trial in nine months.

Jennifer's mother said she struggles to cope with her daughter's death.

"I can't imagine my life without her. She was very special," Barbara Crenshaw said. "I think about her a million times a day."

From:
The Orlando Sentinel
Wed., March 21, 1990