Arizona parents sue dentist after 2-year-old dies while getting crowns

Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Boy dies during dental procedure
Boy dies during dental procedure

YUMA, Arizona -- An Arizona family wants justice a year after their 2-year-old son died after a dental procedure. A new lawsuit is taking aim at everyone involved with the operation.

Zion Gastelum, 2, passed away four days after a visit to a Kool Smiles dental clinic in Yuma on December 16, 2017.

"Everybody just is broken," Zion's mother, Veronica Gastelum, said to KNXV-TV. "No, we're not OK."

According to a police report, Zion needed crowns for a severe case of cavities and was placed under anesthesia by a Phoenix-based anesthesiologist contracted by Kool Smiles. The dentist told officers the procedure went "well" and lasted for about 35 minutes.

Zion became unresponsive after the procedure and was rushed to the hospital. He was flown to Phoenix Children's Hospital and was pronounced dead on December 20, 2017.

A medical malpractice lawsuit has been filed by attorneys representing Zion's family against Kool Smiles, its staff and others hired for the procedure on Zion.

"This is a death that could have been prevented and should have been prevented," said attorney Scott Eldredge, one of the attorneys representing Zion's family.

The lawsuit alleges major red flags:

- The procedure was unnecessary in the first place

- Zion was left alone in the recovery room

- The oxygen tank Zion was hooked up to in recovery was empty or did not work

- A sounding alarm on a monitor used to measure pulse and oxygen saturation was silenced by a Kool Smiles staff member who allegedly said the device does not work on children

The medical examiner listed the cause of Zion's death as "undetermined." Zion's parents in the lawsuit allege he suffered brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen.


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