September 28, 2001
A final settlement was reached Thursday in the wrongful death lawsuit a couple filed against a dentist after their 3-year-old son died after being given anesthesia at a Houston dental clinic.
An autopsy showed Daniel died from the drugs' toxic effect. The toddler was given a drink containing Demerol, Phenergan and chloral hydrate when he went in for a root canal and fillings.
"They gave (Daniel) three drugs that an cause problems with breathing, two of which they gave him in excessive amounts" said lawyer Steve P. McCarthy today.
McCarthy, who represented Daniel's parents, said court records also show that the clinic staff failed to monitor the toddler's condition after he was sedated.
When the staff finally noticed the child was in distress, they did not have the equipment on hand to attempt to revive him as required by state law, the lawyer said.
One piece of equipment, a type of stethoscope, was in Tran Nguyen's car trunk, McCarthy added.
The settlement agreement prevents the parties involved from discussing the damages paid by Nguyen. On average, dentist's malpractice insurance pay out between $200,000 to $1 million per occurrence, according to dental malpractice experts.
Daniel's parents say they sued the dentist to bring attention to the issue of wrongful death caused during dental procedures, not money.
Huynh said he and his wife just want more parents to be aware that there are dangers associated with the type of sedation, known as conscious sedation, that took their son's life.
"We had never heard about this until it happened to us," he said. "We want the story to (get) out to the whole country ... so that our son's death means something."
Huynh described his son as a healthy child with a playful nature and a sharp mind who loved going on family trips to places like Hawaii, Lake Travis and the zoo.
Phan, who is expecting a child, said that her son is never far from her mind. She spent the anniversary of his death at a temple to be closer to him.
The couple cautioned parents to ask more pointed questions about the potential dangers associated with the drugs given children during dental and medical procedures, and to find out what will be done in the event of an emergency.
"Don't let this happen to your child," Phan said.