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Tuesday, October 13, 1998 Published at 23:53 GMT 00:53 UK


Hospital plea after dentist tragedy

Darren had had teeth out before without problem

The mother of a 10-year-old boy who died after a routine trip to the dentist has called for general anaesthetics to be carried out only in hospitals.

[ image:  ]
Isla Denholm, whose son Darren died in Edinburgh on Friday after he was anaesthetised to have a tooth extracted, said she did not blame staff involved.

"I don't blame them at all, but I think it should be done in hospital.

"I never think it should ever, ever be done anywhere but hospital where everything is on hand," she told BBC Scotland.

Morris Beckett, Principal of the Peffermill Dental Centre and dental anaesthetic clinic where Darren fell into a fatal coma, insisted that the clinic was adequately equipped to deal with any problems that might arise from general anaesthesia.

Isla Denholm: Procedures should only be carried out in hospitals, "where everything is on hand"
Dr Colin Poggo, also from the Peffermill centre, told reporters that staff were distressed by Darren's death and extended his sympathies to the family.

But he said he did not believe that anything different would have happened if the procedure was carried out in a hospital.

"Our dental clinic is equipped in the same way a hospital is equipped. We have full cardiac resuscitation equipment on site."

The first few minutes after someone lapsed into a coma were the most vital and Darren was given full cardiac resuscitation immediately, he said.

[ image: Maurice Beckett: Clinic equipped]
Maurice Beckett: Clinic equipped
"As we all know, general anaesthetic has a very small risk. That is why we are prepared with all our resuscitation equipment.

"Unfortunately little Darren had an adverse reaction by the sounds of it," he said.

Darren, from Armadale in West Lothian, was taken to Edinburgh's Hospital for Sick Children, but attempts to revive him failed.

Dr Poggo said the clinic dealt with more than 300 patients a month who had been referred from some 80 dental practitioners in the Edinburgh area.

Morris Beckett of Peffermill Clinic: "We have all the essential equipment to carry out general anaesthesia"
He stressed it was the first time anything like this had happened in the clinic's four-year history.

Darren's parents said the youngster "just went to sleep, and never woke up" after being given the anaesthetic.

His mother said she was told by staff that they believed he had a cardiac arrest shortly after going under the anaesthetic.

Police, who are treating it as a sudden death inquiry, said a report would be submitted to the procurator fiscal.

Deaths 'extremely rare'

The British Dental Association made no immediate comment on Darren's case, but estimated about 350,000 dental general anaesthetics are carried out in the UK each year.

"Sadly, in spite of all precautions, there is still a very small number of deaths associated with dental general anaesthesia, but this is extremely rare," the association said.

About two-thirds of general anaesthetics are given to patients under 18, but only 20% are given by dentists.

The remainder are given by doctors, either from general medical practices or hospitals.

Two to three deaths occur annually, and the BDA says the risk appears unrelated to age, the place of treatment, or whether the process is administered by a doctor or anaesthetist.

It wants to see fewer general anaesthetics administered, but adds that they must be retained for patients with a genuine clinical need.

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