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Parents Agreed to 2-Year-Old Getting Root Canals at Dentist’s Suggestion. They’re Suing After It Cost His Life

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In December 2017, 2-year-old Zion Gastelum’s parents took him to the Kool Smiles dental clinic in Yuma, Arizona, to get some cavities taken care of.

The dentist told the family that the toddler needed root canals and crowns to fix his teeth, so the parents agreed to treatment, according to Yahoo Lifestyle.

Zion was placed under general anesthesia for about 35 minutes to have the dental work done — but he’d never wake up.

Zion’s mother walked into the room after the procedure and noted her son appeared unresponsive, according to court documents.

Mom Veronica Gastelum noticed the heart rate monitor showed no pulse, but the staff allegedly told her that the machine didn’t work on children.

It wasn’t until the mom pointed out that he wasn’t breathing that paramedics were called.

Zion was rushed to Phoenix Children’s Hospital and was pronounced dead four days later, according to ABC 15.

Now, his parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Kool Smiles, alleging that Zion was left alone in the recovery room after his procedure.

The documents state that the 2-year-old was hooked up to an oxygen machine that wasn’t working or was empty and that he died due to lack of oxygen to the brain.

His official autopsy listed his cause of death as “undetermined.”

The family’s lawsuit claims that the boy could have been treated with a less invasive procedure.

Their lawsuit comes after a January 2018 false claims lawsuit by the U.S. Justice Department against Kool Smiles.

The Justice Department alleged that Kool Smiles was instructing children of low-income families to get unnecessary procedures and submitting false claims to Medicaid.

The lawsuit read:

The United States alleges that Kool Smiles clinics routinely pressured and incentivized dentists to meet production goals through a system that disciplined ‘unproductive’ dentists and awarded ‘productive’ dentists with substantial cash bonuses based on the revenue generated by the procedures they performed.

… Exploiting needy children for financial gain is inexcusable.

Ultimately, Kool Smiles agreed to pay a $24 million to the Justice Department in a settlement. However, Zion’s family are still fighting. His mother told ABC 15:

“Everybody just is broken.”

Watch the video below:

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  1. No 2year old needs root canal or crowns on their baby teeth , if a tooth is in bad shape pull it .as for the government going after this dental practice great but why on Earth would they be able to to remain operational after committing insurance fraud .

  2. Obviously people here do not know pediatric dentistry. Maintaining baby teeth with yes root canals known better by dentists as pulpotomies or pulpectomies to removed disease nerve tissue, and restore badly decayed teeth with stainless steel crowns, not the porcelain or gold crowns adults receive, is a staple of gold dentistry. I did many during my 35 years of dentistry. However, this poor child was not treated properly with the anesthesia used. I did not put this aged patient to sleep but referred them to Pedodontists, child specialist dentists, for general anesthesia. This is a standard procedure in order not to psychologically traumatize the young patient. Just pulling bad teeth can result in major costs in straightening permanent teeth that usually all are in by about age 12. Some baby molars hold their space for permanent teeth for up to 10 years, as most baby feet arrive by about age 2. This office was extremely negligent in their post op recovery treatment, and should suffer the consequences of having a child die under their care. Shut them down.

    • False we had to take my husband’s neice because she had a black tooth which was infected. The tooth has to be pulled before the infection goes to the brain which could kill her. Before we were able to take her to get it pulled the mother took her back from us. We are still waiting for them to get it taken care of.

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