NC revokes dentist’s license after patient death

CARY, N.C. (AP) — A Cary dentist has had her license revoked after authorities determined she did not properly monitor a patient who died while she extracted a tooth.

The N.C. State Board of Dental Examiners permanently terminated Dr. Toni Mascherin’s license in September. It was the first time in the last 13 years where authorities determined someone died because of a dentist’s treatment, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported (http://bit.ly/1dVQjZT).

Catherine Thoits, 57, likely died from an overdose of drugs given to sedate her as she had her tooth pulled in November 2012, according to a medical examiner’s autopsy report. The report found that Thoits’ history of sleep apnea meant giving her the drugs to cause conscious sedation was more dangerous.

Mascherin agreed in September with the board’s determination she should lose her dental license. She did not return several calls from the newspaper seeking comment.

Thoits’ family asked for privacy. “Suffice to say that Catherine was a much-loved member of her family, her church, her workplace and her community,” wrote Joseph Howell, a lawyer representing the family. “We are in the midst of investigating the matter and are not at liberty to comment further at this time.”

Mascherin was allowed to continue seeing patients and using the same sedation techniques for eight months while the Board of Dental Examiners investigated her. She sent a letter to her patients after agreeing to give up her license, telling them she was retiring and would miss them.

The board’s report said that Mascherin ignored an assistant’s warnings that Thoits was turning blue, saying she wanted to finish the extraction first.

Mascherin also ignored the possibility that the patient’s sleep apnea and a previous bad reaction to sedation could cause complications, even though Thoits’ doctor approved the use of the drugs, according to the board’s report.

Thoits’ blood-oxygen saturation dropped to dangerous levels and she became unconscious, but Mascherin didn’t stop the procedure. Also, no one administered CPR until paramedics arrived, even though Mascherin told investigators otherwise, authorities said.

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Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com

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