AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN/CNN) – The parents of a 14-month-old girl who died during a dental procedure in Austin, Texas have filed a wrongful death lawsuit, alleging her death was part of a Medicaid scheme.
Daisy Lynn Torres died in March 2016 while under anesthesia for multiple baby root canals and crowns on four of her teeth. The cause of death was the result of anesthesia administered for the treatment of tooth decay, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Elizandro Torres and Betty Squier are suing the practice, the dentist, the anesthesiologist and the company he works for, Texas Anesthesiology Association.
Dr. David Williams was present at the time as the mobile anesthesiologist. The lawsuit claims he "did not describe or explain the procedure that would be performed."
The dentist, Michael Melanson, allegedly told the family the procedure was normal and necessary. At some point during that procedure, Daisy's heart and breathing stopped.
Now, Daisy's parents believe their daughter’s death was all part of a corporate scheme to bill Medicaid for unnecessary procedures.
“A big component of people that use Medicaid happens to be people who are low income and sometimes not as formally educated as others, and they make for very good targets because they are trusting,” said Sean Breen, the family's lawyer.
Breen said other families have come forward saying their children also had unnecessary dental work at Austin Children's Dentistry.
“I think people are now noticing, they are asking questions and we've talked to several families who instead of trusting implicitly, a provider, have decided to get a second opinion," Breen said.
He said they aren't getting answers fast enough because systems like the dental board don't have enough funding from the legislature.
Daisy’s parents said they hope this lawsuit will bring awareness and help other families.
“There are procedures going on every single day. We want parents to know that they have a right to ask questions, they have a right to get a second opinion if they have a doubt," said Squier.
The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners is still investigating the case. Neither the dentist nor the anesthesiologist involved have been disciplined by the state medical or dental boards.
Photo: Torres family
Lawsuit claims death of a toddler was part of a medicaid scam