Showing posts with label Raven Marie Blanco Foundation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Raven Marie Blanco Foundation. Show all posts

Monday, May 14, 2012

How prepared is your dentist?

How prepared is your dentist?

One local family's mission to keep children safe

How prepared is your dentist?:


Updated: Monday, 14 May 2012, 6:30 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 14 May 2012, 4:49 PM EDT

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) - A trip to the dentist can evoke pain, anxiety or fear. Those feelings generally subside once your appointment is over. But for one Chesapeake family the pain will never end. It's been five years since their traumatic visit.

Today, they want to challenge parents; they want them to question their child's dentist.

On March 9, 2007, the Blanco family took their 8-year-old daughter Raven in for a simple procedure. She would be sedated, worked on, then awakened from her sleep.

But Raven never woke up.

Raven's father, Mario Blanco, often visits Norfolk's Forest Lawn Cemetery ; that's where Raven is buried. He brings a chair and sits a few steps from her headstone. It's time alone with his eldest daughter. He opens up to her.

"I don't hear her talk back, but I feel her presence," Mario said.

There is a picture of her at the burial site and Mario meditates on her sweet smile. The same smile still fills the Blanco's Chesapeake home. There are family pictures in every room.

Raven's mother, Robin Blanco, still finds her young daughter's death hard to accept.

"For me, the longer the time goes by, you learn to cope with it. But the longer the time goes by, I miss her more," Robin said, her voice cracking.

Raven was sedated for a routine dental procedure. While getting the work done, complications arose and her heart stopped. Robin watched as staff members performed CPR on her little girl. Crews rushed the child from the dental office to the hospital emergency room.

"I remember a doctor coming out and telling... you know, that they've done all that they can do," Robin continued tearfully. "And did I want to see her - you know I just couldn't believe it. And I said, 'Yes I want to see her. I want to see her.' I just couldn't believe it. And she was gone."

In Raven’s memory, the family started The Raven Maria Blanco Foundation, Inc. They follow and share the stories of other children who’ve died following complications at the dentist.

By their count, 11 have lost their lives in the past year.

Today they're on a mission to educate parents and they want dentists to be prepared. Raven's cousin, Nicole Cunha, is spearheading those efforts.

"People have to go to the dentist, people have to have these things done, there are children with anxiety that have to be sedated, they have to have the work done on them, so no you can't take that away, you have to know what to do if something goes wrong," Cunha said.

Virginia Beach Oral Surgeon Dr. Scott Goodove puts into practice what Raven’s foundation wants in every dental office. He told us, "If we have an emergency, our assistants are prepared. They have stations to take if we have an emergency from the back to the front."

Each morning he holds a staff meeting and goes through the patient list. They discuss any medical complications that could arise.

Dr. Goodove sedates hundreds of patients each year. That's far more than a general dentist. But he points out that oral surgeons also undergo years of specialty training. His advice for any dental office, whether they sedate or not, be ready for a worst-case scenario.

"What we have here is sort of a more organized central emergency station.... (Our) patients walk in, they feel comfortable, 'Hey ... these guys are prepared.'"

In a corner of his office he has an automated external defibrillator (AED), a tank of oxygen, a range of medications and drugs. There's also an emergency response guide.


"It's as simple as picking the emergency - someone passes out - and it will give you the step-by-step guide. But you don't want someone reading this for the first time during the emergency itself, so you run through these drills."

And Dr. Goodove holds mock drills every month. For general dentists, not doing deep sedation procedures Virginia dental regulations don’t go nearly that far. That’s where the Blanco’s want the public to help.

"If we get a group of the whole country coming together, and demanding these things, you'll see a big change," Mario said. Mario eventually wants to see these preparedness practices become law - Raven’s law - as he sees it.

Meantime, much of his time is spent sitting across from Raven burial site, as they keep each other company. Her epitaph reads: "'The most beautiful girl in the world a beloved daughter and sister who is missed and loved so much. One day we will all be together again....' And we will."

Raven's parents want you to ask certain questions before you make a dentist appointment for your child. Click here for a list of those six questions.

Click here to watch the portion of our interview in which the Blanco's discuss taking their other children to the dentist for the first time, following Raven's death.

After this story aired, I received the following:


Kimberly Asercion

After going to the link that showed all the children that had lost their lives due to "complications" at the dental office, I felt like I just needed to tell someone briefly what I have experienced as someone "in the field". I live in Va. Beach and was a dental assistant for almost thirteen years. (I left the field in 2004 after working in an adult practice, and since that time I actually work in the cemetery industry as a General Manager at a cemetery in Va. Beach) I worked five of my thirteen years in a pediatric office. (Drs Sundin and Bullock) and about two months after that at Drs Hechtkopf and Cox. (1998) I did not work long at the last office because the unsafe practices that they undertook actually scared me.

When a child had to have a lengthy procedure they were given Chloral Hydrate for the procedure as well as Nitrous Oxide. (and Lidocaine of course) The dental assistant would come out to the waiting room and get their patient and bring them back. Then the assistant would mix the Chloral Hydrate based on the dose prescribed by the Dr. and give it to the child. Within about ten minutes the children would literally just start getting drowsy and then basically pass out. We would then have to hold them until it was time for them to have their work done...if the office was busy that day then sometimes that could be up to 45 minutes. During that time (and this happened A LOT) the children would begin vomiting...while unconscious and we would have to try to hold them upright while this was happening.

When the procedure would start, the child (who was already completely unconscious) was given Nitrous. It was jacked up way over the necessary level (about 70%) and to the point that it would induce nausea and vomiting even in an adult...but especially on a child that was already sedated. While the child was being worked on (with the papoose board) they had a heart monitor on...when their heartbeat would start to increase the Dr. would say, "Okay...get we go!" (Because the heart rate would increase when they were getting ready to vomit.) They would not reduce the Nitrous strength and we would just have to keep suctioning as they were getting sick.

After the procedure was finished, they would turn on the straight oxygen and start to try to wake the child up. They would still be very groggy when we would carry them back out to their parents, however we were not allowed to tell them that their little child had just spent the last two hours vomiting while unconscious. We did give them precautions for them to eat lightly and to watch them while their mouth was still numb so that they wouldn't bite the inside of their mouth, etc. They never had any idea what had happened back in the office though. That is the part that was so upsetting to me.

I happened to be CPR certified, however this was not a requirement for the job. I was never asked before I was hired if I was. That I know of, none of the assistants were ever shown emergency procedures. I know I was not. This happened on an almost every day basis. Now, when I started the job, I did have eight years of experience and five of those had been in a pediatric office...however the requirements to get a job in Dr. Hechtkopf and Cox's office were very minimal.

I am saddened to hear these stories...I can very easily see how these tragedies could take place. The dentist most of the time very heavily relied on their assistant to have already checked the child's health history without every looking at it themselves. (This was the story in every office I worked at unfortunately.)
I'm truly sorry that this happened and I hope that you sharing these stories will help to regulate the requirements of dentists and their assistants in the future. I just felt like I needed to tell what it was like behind the scenes because I can easily see how this could have happened.

WAVY TV to air “Deadly Dangers at the Dentist Office”–May 14, 2012

David Culver of WAVY 10 TV reports on the deadly dangers at the dentist office. Full piece to air on Monday, May 14, 2012 starting at 5:00 PM. Please watch and share.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Virginia Regulatory Town Hall–Board of Dentistry is holding an open meeting today concerning a rule change requiring training in the 6 Links to Survival

March 9, 2012
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall website

First I want to say that I understand “good” reasons when someone opposes something. There are always two sides and views to everything. It’s the lame and idiotic excuses that gall me to no end.

Today is the 5 year anniversary of Raven Maria Blanco’s death. Raven died because a dental office was not prepared for a medical emergency. 19 children have died in the last five years from ill-prepared dentists and staff, when 6 common sense steps could have made the difference.

Comments from the public closed on February 19, 2012.  Below is a sample of those who sent comments opposing the rule change. 

These are copied and pasted as they were posted on the regulatory agency website. My comments are in [italics and brackets]


Commenter: Watchdog for Coalitions Against The Dental Profession (CADP)

Be Cautious! Don't be Fooled, Don't play into the empathy game!

This Raven Blanco Foundation may be a plublicity stunt to raise funds, that support their self created non profit slary jobs. Everything about their web site is very exploitive. They list no financial discloures, no board of directors/advisors. They are certainly following the guide for creating an issue that will bring them money and influence, and as they say power. And like all these nonprofits, they appeal to ones suffering to gain support.  They can be dangerous, just like all of our local dental nonprofits, run by non dentist, unlisenced advocates if you will, who want to be policy makers over dental matters of which they are trully ignorant. I would question the credibility and intentions of this group. Leave the emotional baggage out of any descision making. Dont treat victims as equals, they are not!

[ Apparently the group has problems with “unlicensed” citizens advocating for change in events that directly affect them. This is confusing to me. Who else would advocate for change? Those unaffected?  Financial “disclosures” are available online and Mr. Blanco, President and his Executive Director who puts in about 50 hours a week draw ZERO dollars from the foundation!  ZERO!  Rather, Mr. Blanco gave a large some to the foundation! Yes, I would question the intention of this group as well, since you will be amazed at what you find. You’ll also find out what wonderful people they are and how much they help other parents whose children are killed by ill-prepared dentists who are sedating children. They assist with emotional support, and financial support.  Helping families with funeral expenses or organize fundraising.They travel to every dental convention they possible can and promote safety in sedation dentistry. How can anyone be faulted for promoting safe sedation of children? The spokesperson for this group sounds as though they know the Blanco’s, are locals and have an ax to grind.]

Commenter: Dr. E. Thomas Elstner, Jr.

Training for medical emergencies

There should be provisions for practitioners who do not administer local anesthetics in their office setting.  Currently there is no ACLS focusing on the dental setting.

[if this person is referring to Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), then with 8 deaths in the last 12 months, maybe ACLS should be focused on the dental setting.  Think?]

Commenter: Dr. Paul W. Callahan

Another costly regulation that does nothing to help public welfare

It is the responsibility of ALL Virginia Regulatory Boards to protect the public.  Any death is is one too many, but statistically it is probably safer to go to the dentist that cross the street.   These proposed regulations are already the Standard of Care in most offices.  A regulation such as this would cost hundreds of thusands of dollars for most practicioners to follow; meaning the time spent documenting training, paying for training for a large staff when not everyone needs to be trained at the same level, etc.  So who pays for all this unnecessary documentation and training?   The average Virginia resident in the form of increased dental fees.   Is this what we want for our patients?

[This is just a wild guess, but I doubt your patients would mind a slight increase in your fee to know you were prepared to save their life if an emergency arose.]

Thursday, March 08, 2012

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry trying to squelch “Raven’s Song” and video created to promote safety in sedation dentistry.

Twice today it’s been removed from their Facebook page.

AAPD Removing Facebook Posts

Guardian Angel "Raven's Song" has gone viral

The song was produced in honor of Raven Maria Blanco who died because of an ill-prepared dentist and staff sedating children in his office – Dr. Michael Hechtkopf.

The five year anniversary of Raven's death is Friday, March 9th 2012. The video has received nearly 400,000 hits in the last few days.  You can purchase the song on itunes.  Proceeds go to purchase AED's-Automatic External Defibrillators which are donated to dental offices across the county. Put there to save a child!  Please consider purchasing Raven's Song.

This week major news outlets have all but promoted sedation dentistry for children. Not a word was mentioned about the 19 deaths of children due to sedation complications that has taken place since Raven’s death 5 years ago.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Virginia Dental Board to consider stricter medical emergency rules thanks to a petition by the Raven Marie Blanco Foundation

Raven Marie Blanco died during dental treatment on March 9, 2007.  Since that time her family created a foundation that advocates much stricter guideline for medical emergency readiness.  Virginia has no requirements other than basic CPR, but dentists regularly sedate children for dental treatment.

March 9, 2012 will be the 5 year anniversary of Raven’s death and on that day, the Virginia dental board will present the petition to its members to enlist comments for or against the petition.

The petition asks that the Six Links of Survival developed in 2003 by the Institute of Medical Emergency Preparedness become part of the license renewal process for Virginia dentists.

You can email the dental board your comments at:

The Six Links to Survival are:

  1. Dentist's training
  2. Staff training
  3. Mock drills
  4. Maintaining a written emergency plan
  5. Stocking appropriate medications
  6. Maintaining appropriate equipment

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fox News report on Jenny Olenick’s parents suing dentist after her death. Jenny died in 2011


There have been 24 pediatric deaths related to complications due to dental procedures in the past seven years. This number accounts only for reported pediatric deaths. Shockingly, of the 24 pediatric deaths occurring within the seven year period, 11 have been within the last 21 months. 52% of the deaths have occurred since April of 2010! What once may have been viewed as a rarity has clearly become an epidemic. Wake-up Dr. Milton Houpt!

If you add the adult deaths, the numbers skyrocket.  If we knew the exact number of pediatric deaths and adult deaths I think everyone would be is shock!  Many are unreported as taking place during dental procedures.  Just last week I heard from a person whose friend’s husband had died in Florida just a few months ago during a dental procedure. She said the man had been dead for 15 minutes before the dental assistant brought it to his attention.  This never saw the pages of a news paper or a spot on the evening news.  There are hundreds more of these same kind of stories.  Mr. Milton Houpt ,the ADA and the AAPD do NOT want the true numbers told, it’s a $3 billion dollar a year industry!

Here is a memo sent out by the AAPD after the death of Jacobi Hill in Richmond, Virginia in 2010.

Nor does the DOCS Education program; a drive thru; weekend; three day seminar to teach dentist the fine art of sedation.  Used to help general dentists increase services and revenue streams.  A very dangerous one at that!

Someone has suggested it’s only a coincidence that the major dental agencies that set the standards and shape state rules and regulations are all located at the same address in Chicago: 211 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

American Dental Association

Academy of General Dentistry

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

American Student Dental Association

American College of Prosthodontists

American Association of Endodontists

and…drum roll please…..

The American Association of Dental Boards

Just a coincidence? 
The ADA owns the building and simply leases it to other organizations, no conspiracy? 

I say Hogwash!!

The Raven Maria Blanco Foundation helps parents whose children have died during dental treatment

The Raven Maria Blanco Foundation (RMBF)was established after 8 year old Raven Blanco died during sedation dentistry. The foundation is committed to educating parents and professional of the risks that lead to these deaths as well as safety measures that can easily be taken to reduce such risks. The Raven Maria Blanco Foundation travels as funds will allow to dental conventions across the nation where they set up their booth to promote safety and educated the dental community. They are not always met with open arms.  Here is a public service announcement from 2010

Here are the names of 39 children who have died in recent years.
I met with Nicole, Raven’s cousin and Director of the RMBF, and Mario, Raven’s father, and have to say they are some of the loveliest people you will ever meet. They truly are committed to their cause. Sadly it has been falling on many a deaf ear, but that has not deterred them for one minute. They work tirelessly and are never to busy to help.  I am proud to know such wonderful and selfless people.
The RMBF provides much needed support for parents who have suffered the pain of death of their child. They assist in raising money to help pay for funeral expenses, including traveling to fundraisers when time allows. Other times it’s putting these parents in contact with each other to help each other for support.
The RMBF has a facebook page at

RMBF, Inc.
PO BOX 65581
Virginia Beach, VA 23467
Currently, they RMBF is seeking dontation to assist the family of Jermaine Lee Harrison, Jr who died during a dental procedure in Stockton, California on November 11, 2011.
You can make a donation by clicking here.
RMBF, INC. is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Is Your Dental Office Prepared For Disaster?


Will another parent going home today without their child? 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Raven Marie Blanco Foundation

Raven Marie Blanco was killed by an overdose of drugs at the dental office of Dr. Michael Hechtkopf on March 7, 2007.  She left behind a grieving family who have taken their grief and are using it to awaken the dental community, who have been sleeping at the wheel.  

Children are dying, one a month since April 2010.  The RMBF is asking the ADA and other Dental Organization to take a stronger look at the reasons children are dying in droves.  The RMBF has created common sense solutions that will saves lives in the future. 

So far the American Dental Association has failed in protecting citizens, especially children, from deaths at the hands of dentists here in the United States. 


From The Raven Marie Blanco Foundation:

The recent rise in pediatric deaths due to dental visit complications is absolutely getting out of control!

RMBF needs your support now more than ever.

We are partnering with Dr. Larry Sangrik, DDS to bring a Continuing Education Memorial Lecture on the "Six Links of Survival" to the dental community in an effort to better prepare them to handle Medical Emergencies.

To honor Raven’s life and perpetuate her memory, we established RMBF. The mission of RMBF is two-fold. Financially, we seek to raise funds for causes which directly impact children.

Our 5-year plan calls for us to place 5000 automatic electronic defibrillators (AEDs) in areas of need across the country, give a grant to assist the dental health needs of underserved children and provide financial assistance for a building project to a South African orphanage.

The second mission of RMBF is to raise awareness within the dental profession about the need for medical emergency preparedness in dental offices. That objective has proved to be even more challenging than raising funds.

When RMBF began, our initial goal was to get dentists to purchase an AED for their office. As we have become more knowledgeable about medical emergency preparedness, we have learned that many of the leading authorities base dental office preparations around a concept called the Six Links of Survival. The Six Links of Survival was developed the Institute of Medical Emergency Preparedness [IMEP] as a medical emergency preparedness program and teaching tool for dentists.

RMBF partnered with Dr. Larry Sangrik to bring a Continuing Education Memorial Lecture on the Six Links of Survival to the dental community in hopes of reducing the amount of unprepared reactions to medical emergencies.

Dr. Sangrik is a nationally renowned speaker, who has lectured to over 7500 dental professionals on this topic.

Our intention is to raise awareness in the minds of dentists about the need to prepare their offices for medical emergencies. 

Six Links of Survival
-Regular dentist training
-Staff training
-Written office emergency manual
-Periodic mock emergency drills
-Proper emergency equipment
-Proper emergency medications
Since 1996 there have been 18 pediatric deaths related to dental complications. Mind you these are only the ones we know about.
That is 18 deaths in 14 years. At first glance the number is sad, but do you want to know something shocking? FOUR of the deaths occurred in the last FOUR months!
Yes, 22% of the deaths occurred in the last four months - add in Maddoux Cordova the 22-month old boy who died in December and you can clearly see that 1/3 of the deaths have happened within the last eight months!
The American Dental Association must update its medical emergency guidelines for dentists and they cannot deny our request that they hold a symposium to study the issue and the 6 Links concept in particular.

Pediatric deaths resulting from complications related to dental procedures are not a rarity people – they are an EPIDEMIC! RMBF will not take no for an answer.
RMBF sent out letters to the American Dental Association (ADA)
requesting that they pursue an update of its 2002 guidelines based on current knowledge, make the information easily accessible to dentists and to commit to regular monitoring of the recommendations to keep them timely.

  Raven Marie Blanco Foundation on Facebook - Keep up with the progress

  Raven Marie Blanco Foundation Website - You can help protect pediatric dental patients.

  Raven's Memorial Website


More children have died since the government has included dental care under Medicaid/SCHIP programs.  Of course this will be explained away as due to the increase in dental care.

If we are going to have those programs, of course dental as well as vision care should be included in Medicaid/SCHIP programs.

The argument to include dental care was that one child had died due to infection.  

Take a minute and meet the children who are now dead.  Many could have been prevented had common sense precautions been taken.

The ADA has not updated their guidelines since 2002!   With the increase in pediatric treatments and skyrocketing deaths this is just unacceptable.

It is hard to believe this foundation needs to exist, but the dental community is resisting adding lifesaving equipment, as an Automatic Electronic Defibrillators (AED) to their repertoire. 

Illinois and Florida have had to pass laws requiring AED's in dental offices, which cost between $1200 - $1800.  However, many dentists are not maintaining or inspecting them on a regular basis, nor is the training in their use sufficient.  Read more here. 

As a side note here:  Papoose boards range from $300 - $500 each

Here is a comment from a dental forum regarding AED's:

I don't agree with making AEDs mandatory in ALL dental offices. When was the last time you went to a general practitioner MD's office and he had an AED on hand? It's ludicrous. Now, if you're doing sedation procedures, as this dentist was, then, you are a FOOL to not have such equipment, along with a pulse oximeter. I can't believe he didn't have one. He obviously didn't know how to titrate his dosage properly either, seeing that her blood levels were 3 times the level considered safe for a child her weight. Does the board in his state not regulate who can and who cannot practice sedation??? Here, in Louisiana, we can't even write for Valium for oral sedation as of a couple of years ago without first being re-certified in oral conscious sedation, regardless of how long you have been in practice and doing so.

In Illinois, the law will not apply to dentists who use only local anesthetics such as lidocaine or articaine.  The original legislation included ALL office, but thanks to the Illinois State Dental Society, it was amended.  Thank you so much ISDS. (sarcasm) Read more here.

Dental office can purchase one through the drive-thru sedation training called DOCS