Oregon Dentist is Being Sued After Falling Asleep During a Patient Visit


sleepydentistMelyn Guernsey of Portland, Oregon is claiming that her sleepy dentist, after falling asleep three times during her visit, wrongly administered her a numbing agent that resulted in an emergency room visit. Consequently, Guernsey is suing the Portland Emergency Dental Clinic for $200,000.

On March 29, Guernsey visited the clinic because of a pain in her mouth — she needed a tooth extraction. While waiting for the dentist, Paul Kim, she overheard the dental assistant and the receptionist discussing whether or not Kim was asleep. According to the suit filed against the clinic, Guernsey recalls one of them saying “Wake up, your two o-clock patient is here” to the dozing dentist.

Kim took x-ray’s of Guernsey’s mouth then left, and Guernsey heard the assistant say, “Nap time is over.” Several minutes later, Kim met with Guernsey and decided that a tooth extraction was needed. Guernsey, though, had a high blood pressure, so he asked the dental assistant to read her pressure again in 15 minutes. At the end of this period, Guernsey again heard the dental assistant tell the dentist to wake up.

Guernsey’s blood pressure did not change during the 15 minutes, yet Kim decided to administer a numbing agent anyway. As soon as this happened, Guerney had trouble breathing as her throat swelled, and also felt sharp pains in her chest along with nausea. She went to an emergency room, where the staff told her she had had a negative reaction to epinephrine.

Since the event, Guernsey says she has experienced frequent panic attacks that have forced her to seek professional therapy. She claims to have experienced emotional distress and has had difficulty driving and eating.

She is seeking $190,000 for emotional distress, and $10,000 in economic damages, which include both therapy and further dental treatment. The charges are for negligence as well as violation of the dentist-patient relationship. According to records from the Oregon Board of Dentistry, Kim has not been reported for malpractice yet in the 12 years he has had his license.

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