NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) — Doctors reviewing the death of a patient recommend the dentist treating him lose her license.
Florida’s Department of Health is instead negotiating a settlement with Dr. Veronica Thompson and her attorneys.
Tommy Myers’ stopped breathing while undergoing a procedure at Grand Dentistry in New Port Richey in 2014.
Dr. Thompson administered sedation because Tommy was a mentally challenged patient with Down Syndrome.
When he arrived at Morton Plant North Bay Hospital, his heart wasn’t beating.
“I looked at Tommy and I said, ‘he has to have his Last Rites,'” his mother Maureen Myers explained.
For two days Tommy remained on life support, until doctors assured his parents he wasn’t coming back.
“Nobody but nobody and especially Tommy should have ever had to die this type of a death,” Maureen stated.
What happened in that dentist chair?
A Florida Department of Health investigator determined Dr. Thompson made several mistakes, chief among them, she administered too much sedation too quickly.
Nearly two years later in 2016, the Department of Health charged Dr. Thompson, who also violated Florida law by failing to follow proper emergency protocols by not administering a reversal drug.
“They said that she was administering deep sedation without a permit,” Tommy’s father Gary said.
In May 2017, Dr. Thompson appeared before the Board of Dentistry.
She answered questions and apologized.
“We’re all just really sorry this happened,” Dr. Thompson told board members.
The DOH recommended a reprimand, a $10,000 fine and the successful completion of the laws and rules exam.
“So now all they want to do is send her back to school so she can learn what the emergency protocol is,” Maureen explained.
“I think that stinks.”
The Board of Dentistry rejected the settlement. It voted to revoke Dr. Thompson’s license.
A year later, in September 2018, the DOH proposed another settlement.
“I think it’s taken too long. Nobody’s really doing what needs to be done,” Gary added.
A Probable Cause Panel wanted no part of a settlement.
“I mean, just about every violation that you could find in regards to quality anesthesia and appropriate anesthesia has been violated here,” Probable Cause Panel member Dr. Carl Melzer stated in a conference call.
“I feel this patient was not well taken care of and the doctor is completely at fault, completely, completely at fault,” Dr. Claudio Miro, another Probably Cause Panel member, said.
“This is about as bad a case, you know, I’ve seen in my tenure on the board,” Dr. Melzer told DOH attorneys.
“I think this should go back to the full board for revocation, and I think if this has to go to an administrative law judge, then you guys should just suck it up and do it because this is where this case should go. I mean, it’s that bad.”
The panel recommended license revocation.
Instead, DOH is seeking yet another settlement.
Why is DOH trying to settle the case instead of taking the recommended steps to revoke Dr. Thompson’s license?
DOH has not provided an answer to that question.
“She neglected my son and no amount of money, no amount of fines, no amount of school is going to bring him back,” Maureen said.
“They need to revoke her license,” Gary added.
“I think the state is taking the easy way out,” Maureen explained.
The fact that this case has dragged on for more than four and a half years makes Gary wonders if the state has placed a lesser value on Tommy’s life because he was a patient with Down Syndrome.