Boy Dies During Dental Procedure

PHOTO Authorities are investigating the death of a 6-year-old boy, Jacobi Hill, who underwent treatment at Virginia Commonwealth Universitys dental clinic.

A grieving family in Richmond, Va., is still looking for answers after a trip to the dentist resulted in the death of their 6-year-old boy.

Jacobi Hill went to the Virginia Commonwealth University's dental clinic on Tuesday morning to get a few crowns on his teeth, his grandparents told ABC News affiliate WRIC-TV in Richmond. The family said his pediatrician cleared him for sedation the day before.

But something went wrong during the procedure and Hill suffered a cardiac arrest. The staff at the VCU Medical Center was unable to revive him.

VIDEO: Doctors sedated 6-year-old boy who later went into cardiac arrest.
Boy Dies During Dental Procedure

"This is just unexpected, and it's hurtful," Hill's grandfather John Suggs told WRIC. "You just want someone to tell you what's going on -- what happened and how it happened."

"I just know he's my baby. He was only 6 years old, and I was robbed of his life. ... I just want him back so bad," Hill's grandmother Carolyn Suggs said.

A spokeswoman for Virginia Commonwealth University declined to give interviews about what went on during the procedure, but released a statement instead.

"Virginia Commonwealth University wants to understand what happened in connection with the tragic event involving a pediatric patient," the statement said. "Our internal investigation continues, and we are awaiting the results of the autopsy conducted by the Virginia Office of the Medical Examiner.

"We have been in contact with the patient's family, and we will continue to be available to them. VCU complies with requirements governing the administration of general anesthesia during dental procedures, and professional emergency care is immediately available in our dental clinics and facilities."

Children are frequently sedated for many medical procedures, from imaging tests to dental work.

A prospective study of 25,433 sedations with the drug propofol by the Pediatric Sedation Research Consortium found that the vast majority -- 22, 068 cases -- of children were being sedated for magnetic resonance imaging tests, known as MRIs.

Children Are Often Sedated for Medical Treatment

About 6 percent of sedations had complications, but no deaths occurred in the study. In light of the study, which was reported at a scientific meeting this month, some pain specialists called for better understanding of which drugs to use to sedate children.

"To use that (propofol) to keep a child still ... there are other methods," Dr. Lonnie Zeltzer, a pediatric anesthesiologist at the University of California Los Angeles told ABCNews.com. "It's an overuse."

VCU officials did not release which drugs were used to sedate Hill, or whether the sedation was involved with his death.

But doctors say rare cases such as Hill's point out there are always risks when using powerful medications on young children, no matter how well medicine has managed to fine-tune safety procedures.

"The statistics of something bad happening in anesthesia are very rare. It's a disastrous thing when something bad happens," said Dr. Eduardo Fraifeld, a board certified anesthesiologist and president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.

"The similar thing would be childbirth -- when you go back in history and look at old gravestones, it's clear childbirth was a major cause of death in young women," Fraifeld said. "Now it happens so rarely, that it's a disastrous thing."

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