On February 1, 2011, a Chicago area teen underwent a root canal at Dental Dreams after he lost a filing. A week and one day later, 17 year old Christopher Schutzius died from sepsis, a toxic infection he contracted following root canal surgery, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner' Office. Chistopher' mother, Barbara Schutzius, says her son went to have a simple filing replaced. Instead, a dentist or endodontist at Dental Dreams on 1200 Western Avenue, performed root canal surgery. "All they had to do was replace a filing. Why do a root canal?" asks Christopher' mother. Nor was Chistopher given pain medication or an antibiotic which is given to prevent infection.
A root canal surgery may be performed when decay will likely damage or has already killed a tooth. During a root canal procedure, a dentist or endondontist removes the pulp from the center of the tooth and fills the pulp cavity. This can prevent a painful infection from developing and spreading to other teeth. If a tooth is infected, bacteria from the mouth can enter the blood stream, causing a potential fatal infection to other parts of the body. The risk of a deadly infection is increased following surgery on an infected tooth. Consequently, antibiotics are often prescribed before and/or after a root canal surgery to prevent serious infection.
In the case of Christopher Schutzius death, it is unclear at this point why the dental provider performed a root canal for an apparent lost filing. In addition to whether Christopher was a proper candidate for a root canal, other questions remain including what if any medications were given and what if any post-operative instructions were given regarding the signs of a potential infection. Indeed, no one can say, a this juncture, whether this Chicago area teen died from dental malpractice. What is clear is that Christopher' death is an unexpected tragedy.
Posted by Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyer Jason M. Kroot