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Woman outraged says dentist operated 24 hours after patient death

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TEMECULA, Calif. – Teri Biancardi of Temecula told Fox 5 she was furious after finding out her daughter was the next dental patient following the death of a San Diego entrepreneur.

The patient was 25-year-old Marek Lapinski.  Lapinski suffered a fatal heart attack during wisdom teeth surgery, he later died at the hospital.  Biancardi said what’s more disturbing was no one ever told her about Lapinski’s death.

“My heart stopped, my blood ran cold,” said Biancardi.  “I feel exploited, I feel rage, I feel that my daughter, we wound up gambling with her life.”

Biancardi said the gamble was with oral surgeon Dr. Steven Paul of Temecula.   On March 25, her daughter had her wisdom teeth taken out by Dr. Paul.

“The very doctor who operated on my daughter his last patient had died just the day before,” said Biancadi. “Nobody told me in that entire office, not the receptionist, two nurses and the doctor.”

“The surgeon does not really have an ethical obligation to tell that patient what happened,” said Dr. Lin, President-elect of the California Association of Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons.

Lin said under state codes of conduct, Dr. Paul likely submitted the Lapinski case to medical and dental boards.  He may not have been able to disclose any information.pic2

“He’s probably under a non-disclosure agreement. He probably can’t say anything or doesn’t have to say anything,” Dr. Lin said.

The Lapinski case is now under investigation and it’s one that’s struck the heart of the profession.

“We will have to take a hard look at the findings and try to learn from this tragic event,” said Dr. Lin.

“I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet,” said Biancardi.

Teri’s daughter is now on the road to recovery.  She understands non-disclosure laws, but she asks what about moral obligation.

“The doctor should have some obligation to disclose what’s transpired so we can make an informed consent.”

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38 comments

  • Farnsworth

    Her daughter was not a risk. This guy did his job properly and something went horribly wrong. It is very tragic, but this guy did nothing wrong.

    • Ms. Roca

      he should have been paying attention to what was happening during the procedure, and he failed to do so. doesn't he feel the tiniest bit guilty, i mean to just go ahead and do the same procedure on someone else. that is cold!

    • Guest

      How do you know nothing was done wrong? There should be a investigation, and until the investigation is complete, he should not be able to conduct further surgeries.

      What about the gauze found in the patients throat? That seems to appear the doctor and/or dental assistant wasn't paying attention to allow that to get in his throat. That appears "NO ONE" in that room at the time was doing their job "PROPERLY".

    • Prayers4Marek

      what makes you an expert on what happened that day? all the evidence thus far shows an overdoes of drugs and negligence of monitoring the oxygen levels. do we think the doctor is an evil malicious killer? absolutely not, but he should have some sort of conscious in him that says, "maybe i should close down for a day" or something.

      • TINA GOMES

        Agreed Prayers4Marek. BOTTOM LINE…this mother deserves adequate and proper notification at the place of treatment about the dentist's history because of the established harmful conduct he displayed and the reality that his conduct poses a risk that it may repeat. PERIOD! IT IS THE LAW…this mother put her child in the chair of a dentist that lost a patient 24 hrs earlier and that is IN FACT INFORMATION VALUABLE TO ANY PATIENT SIGNING AN INFORMED CONSENT DOCUMENT…this mother is responsible for this child and which dentist she chooses to have her child treated by. If the "shoe was on the other foot" you would feel the same way. Dentists are sometimes drug/alcohol addicted, repeating gross negligent patterns to unsuspecting patients everyday…THERE ARE OVER 300 PROBATIONER DENTISTS IN CALIFORNIA AND NOT ONE PATIENT IS INFORMED AT THE DENTAL OFFICE.

  • Guest

    He has no obligation to say anything and it's an ongoing investigation so he can't say anything. We don't know all the details and if this is the first time something like this has happened who's to say he was negligent or practicing out of his scope. Sometimes bad things happen during surgery, that's why doctors have to explain all the risks of the surgery. All patients know the risk when going under.

    This woman is overreacting. Her daughter is fine and apparently had no complications or else it'd be a much more interesting story. Sounds like she's trying to find a way to sue him for something. Besides if this was gross negligence the place would be shut down and his license yanked.

    • Prayers4Marek

      she doesn't sound like she is trying to sue at all, more that she is emotially shaken, as any parent would be after finding out about this. i'm tired of this "obligation" nonsense, as a simple human being you should be decent enough to take a step back. maybe something freakish did happen, even more reason to shut down for a day and make sure your equipment is in good shape and not acting up. or to talk to your staff about making sure they stay monitoring the oxygen monitors. the bottom line is- his oxygen levels were last reported and deathly levels. THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THAT. that is sheer evidence against this doctor and his team. and evidence enough for them to step back and try to take the necessary precautions to make sure this would never happen again.

  • guest

    Exactly how long should a doctor/dentist wait to continue practicing after a patient dies? I can't wait to hear your responses.

  • Jay

    The article says he had a fatal heart attack during the procedure. It certainly doesn't make it appear to be the doctor's fault, nor does this woman have any right to know private medical information in regards to another patient. She probably just wants to sue and get rich. I'm pretty sure that doctors in hospitals don't need to walk around telling their next patients that someone just died on the operating table? Get a life, lady.

  • Guest

    Really, People? You're " tired of this "obligation" nonsense"? Really? Would like it the other way around then? Where any Dr, Assistant, nurse, office personnell, manager, etc. don't have to keep your medical history, condition, treatment, medications, financial obligations, etc., confidential? How about if they didn't have to give you an "informed consent" and keep any potential risks involved with whatever procedure you're having a secret? As a person that's been in the medical/dental field for 25 years, I can assure you that you would NOT want it that way. Yes, it is annoying to have to sign all of that pesky paperwork that tells you what procedure is being done, any risks involved, as well as have you sign that you understand that the medical/dental office cannot disclose ANY information to just anyone without your consent, but would you want it any other way? Maybe now you get the picture as to why NO ONE in any medical/dental office can tell you anything at all about any other patients in their practice. IT'S THE LAW!

    • TINA GOMES

      THE LAW PROVIDES THAT IS UNLAWFUL TO SUPPRESS/OMIT VITAL INFORMATION VALUABLE TO A PATIENT/GUARDIAN OF A PATIENT ABOUT RISKS OR THE STATUS OF A DENTIST PRIOR TO SIGNING AN INFORMED CONSENT DOCUMENT.

      • Guest

        And where exactly, does one find this law at? I have never seen the wording regarding a Dentist "status", other than to display their licence in such a place so that all patients can see it. Risks for that particular patient, yes but no wording regarding the Dentist's "status", other than his licence status. I see that you have a petition, which only 271 people have signed since August of last year, that would indicate that there is no such wording. What say you, Tina Gomes?

  • Guest

    If there was neglect on the Oral Surgeons part, believe me, it will result in MAJOR penalties, the law will have to handle it from there. In the meantime, we need to offer our support and condolences to this young mans family and friends. As for the woman that is upset about her daughter being treated by the oral surgeon, maybe she should start asking all of the medical professionals she sees if they have EVER had anyone have any problems, from minor ones to death, prior to receiving treatment. Right, good luck with that, see how that works for anyone.

  • Guest

    The point is this: Sunday, March 24th, Marek Lipinski, a 24-year-old athlete with apparently no known health issues died as the direct result of the wisdom teeth extraction procedure performed by Dr. Paul. Hospital records show gauze was in his airway, his brain was starved of oxygen for up to ten minutes, and there are second-hand reports from the hospital that he suffered an overdose. That’s what we know so far.

    Dr. Paul may have performed a textbook perfect procedure on Marek, and a terrible accident happened, no fault of Dr. Paul. It’s entirely possible that Dr Paul did everything right, and still this tragic death was the outcome. But Marek’s death prompts some real questions, among them whether negligence or even malpractice was to blame.

    The Dental Board of California does have investigators on the case, but in the meantime, Dr. Paul is able to continue practicing. Even if he’s found negligent, he can keep working for the up to six months that it would take to revoke his license. Are you really cool with that?

    It seems to me that when an oral surgeon loses a patient, especially under suspicious circumstances like those in Marek’s case, there should be an automatic “time-out” for at least a preliminary investigation to rule out incompetence, and to give the doctor time to get his head together. Doesn’t the public deserve at minimum that measure of safety? And doesn’t a parent have the right to consider whether their daughter’s surgeon’s frame of mind might be altered by the fact of the death of his patient not 24 hours earlier? Really, people…

    • TINA GOMES

      There are over 300 PROBATIONER DENTISTS in California right now…some are drug/alcohol addicted, repeat gross negligent conduct with a pattern, harm several patients and are treating patients daily without one single patient being informed at the dental office. IT'S UNLAWFUL TO SUPPRESS OR OMIT THE ACTUAL LICENSING STATUS OF A DENTIST…this tragedy is not uncommon in California and this mother has a valid reason to be angry because she was deceived and misled.

    • Guest

      Very well said. Dr. Paul has a rep for being an ass. Obviously, he comes in the next am and yanks more teeth out. Geez, a young guy died the day before! My dog died and I was so sad and distraught i couldn't work for days after…THIS WAS A HUMAN LIFE. Regardless how he died, Dr. Pauls demeanor is questionable. Ask his office staff, im sure they will eventually come clean…hmmmm the things they will tell. Can you say negligent????

  • someone who knows

    Whatever happened to "innocent until proven guilty?"

    The reality is that judges are extremely reluctant to prevent someone from practicing their livelihood unless there is substantial evidence that the person was negligent. How are they supposed to defend themselves if they can't work to pay for their defense?

    And medical cases take time. Michael Jackson's doctor is just now getting to spend time behind bars – and MJ died over two years ago folks.

    • TINA GOMES

      Wouldn't you want to know in advance of any dental treatment if your dentist in fact killed a patient or was being investigated for killing a patient?

      • Guest

        You said "in advance of any dental treatment if your dentist in fact killed a patient or was being investigated for killing a patient? " Isn't that just a little assumptive on your part? Why assume that the dentist "Killed" anyone? There may have been many different scenarios that were the cause, not just one. I do think that if there is neglect on the part of the dentist, then he should duly penalized, whether it be a probation or have his licence removed, however, that takes time to investigate. In the meantime, isn't that you making yourself, both judge and jury without any real investigation? How very wrong to assume that any medical or dental doctor "killed" a patient just because you don't want to wait for the proper investigation to take place and thus decide to condemn them. There are websites to check if any medical or dental licenced professional has any issues related to them, that includes probations, disciplinary, suspensions of licences, etc., however, that is only AFTER an investigation has been conducted.

        Posting…

        Read more: http://fox5sandiego.com/2013/04/03/woman-outraged

        • TINA GOMES

          A disclaimer protects the Dental Board if they don't accurately or post in a timely manner the ACTUAL status of a dentist the Dental Board actually profits from investigating or monitoring by hourly fees…the patient is supposed to have the PRIORITY OF PUBLIC/PATIENT SAFETY MEASURES before the problem dentist does according to the law. I am completely dependent on competent dentists now after NEVER being informed my former dentist was being investigated for harming several patients or during his entire 5 yr probation as he destroyed my health and happines – all my teeth. The Board apologized for NEVER posting his probation

  • cttr22

    This is the most ridiculous non-story I have ever seen and that is really saying something. This office and this doctor had NO responsibility to say ANYTHING to anyone!
    Everyone signs a disclosure of the risks of surgery… some people die. It's a fact of surgeries. What's the doctor supposed to do? Shut down his practice because one of the statistics came about?

    This woman is insane and has made her whole family look like a bunch of ridiculous nutbags for going on the news and Fox News should be ashamed of themselves for trying to sensationalize this non-story and for trying to take away from what should be the family's mourning for their lost son/brother/father.
    SHAME ON YOU, Teri and shame on you especially, Sharon Chen!!!

    • grasshopper

      Are you nuts??? Some people DONT die getting a tooth out. If someone died at my dentist im getting new one fast!

  • Guest

    It's you who should be ashamed, cttr22. Calling names and behaving like a common bully. Granted, this is tabloid news in the worst sense of the term and, yet, you've managed to lower the tone of what you imply is as low as it gets. Is there a "troll of the thread" prize you're going for? YOU WIN!

    The parent, in this case, is clearly restrained if reeling from what is seemingly a close call for their daughter. One shouldn't have to be related by family to grasp this obvious point. Of course there should be a mandatory "time out" for deaths. Of course the patients in line for the procedure should be informed and offered real choices.

    How long can we pretend that healthcare is a normal market, with Walmart-like choices and patients as informed consumers? That the business incentives here point in the opposite direction of transparency, informed choice and public health, as in so many other areas, is illustrative of obvious market failures. Unfortunately, citizens are very much at their mercy.

    The premature death of Marek Lipinski is a terrible tragedy. My heart goes out to his family, friends and to all who have suffered as a result. The one thing we can be certain of is that the result of the legal battles to come will never adequately compensate for this tragic loss.

  • TINA GOMES

    BOTTOM LINE…this mother deserves adequate and proper notification at the place of treatment about the dentist's history because of the established harmful conduct he displayed and the reality that his conduct poses a risk that it may repeat. PERIOD! IT IS THE LAW…this mother put her child in the chair of a dentist that lost a patient 24 hrs earlier and that is IN FACT INFORMATION VALUABLE TO ANY PATIENT SIGNING AN INFORMED CONSENT DOCUMENT…this mother is responsible for this child and which dentist she chooses to have her child treated by. If the "shoe was on the other foot" you would feel the same way. Dentists are sometimes drug/alcohol addicted, repeating gross negligent patterns to unsuspecting patients everyday…THERE ARE OVER 300 PROBATIONER DENTISTS IN CALIFORNIA AND NOT ONE PATIENT IS INFORMED AT THE DENTAL OFFICE.

  • TheCommenter

    Did you know that if a police officer shoots someone they are on automatic administrative leave until an investigation is completed? It's not assuming fault, it's just a policy to leave time for investigation. Consequences for dental mistakes or poor work (such as revoking their license) almost never happen and it's time for the system to change. The industry is prone to self-protection, and patients have no real information. The regulation should be changed and after a serious and unexpected injury or death occurs, dentists should not be allowed to practice for 30 days until an investigation can be completed. This wouldn't violate any patient privacy rights at all. No one has to tell others who was hurt. Just that the dentist is on a routine required regulatory leave after an unfortunate but possibly unavoidable patient problem.

    • Guest

      Exactly! Being put on administrative leave is not an admission of guilt, or negligence. It is just common sense when patient safety is at stake. Unfortunately, the Dental Board of California will not even register that a complaint has been filed until they complete their investigation, which takes about six months. They call themselves a Consumer Protection Agency but really they're only protecting the dentists. This has got to change.

      • smarter

        Cops get paid administrative leave. Dentists, doctors, or anyone else in that type of profession have to do procedures (i.e. WORK) if they want to pay their overhead, staff, mortgage, and student loans. General Surgeons, ER doctors, Cardiologists are people who probably have patients die in their care on a weekly, if not daily, basis. So you want no cardiologists or ER doctors at work because someone died in the ER and you want an investigation and disclosure?!?!? you guys are idiots.

  • Quen

    I think the doctor have the right to not tell his patients of what happen to his other patients because there's a rule about patient confidentiality. For the mothers case, I think she should know her dentist better. Try to get some recommendation from trustworthy persons if really needed.

  • Kellie

    My friend quit being a dental assistant because she was disgusted with the poor infection control dentists practice. Yes, this can lead to death. Next time you're at a dentist's office watch them grab a dirty pen or touch their dirty pant legs sprayed with spit from the previous patients and then place their contaminated gloved-hand straight into the patient's mouth! Hepatitis, AIDS, etc went straight into that patient's mouth! I am an RN with 35 years of experience. Dentists and their assistants are dirty practitioners and should be monitored better…and should never administer anesthesia!

  • Concerned

    The bigger concern is who will be doing the anesthesia @ oral surgeons offices in the future … somehow CA oral surgeons were able to sneak a law past patient advocacy groups where a high school graduate dental assistant can now deliver anesthesia medications to a patient while the oral surgeon is focused on the procedure?!?! This is so far below the medical standard of care that I hope the public makes an issue of this. Turns out oral surgeons have been doing this for years (which may explain 100 plus deaths in oral surgery offices over the last 10 years) but now they have managed to make it legal in California!?!? http://www.aaoms.org/members/meetings-and-continu

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