This story originally contained an incorrect name. The story has been corrected.
The Tulsa Police Department and the Oklahoma Dentistry Board are investigating the death of a 4-year-old girl who had been put under sedation for a dental procedure at a Tulsa pediatric dental clinic.
Akasmse Rose Tecumseh of Morris died Aug. 14 after leaving Pediatric Dental Group, 602 S. Utica Ave.
“I can tell you we are working constantly on this,” said Linda Campbell, executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry. “We are working on the timeline.”
She said investigators have been at the clinic going through records this week to find out how long the sedative was administered and whether proper protocol was followed.
Campbell said the Tulsa Police Department is working with the board’s investigators on the case.
“Certainly one death is too many, but we are looking at this to ensure there is clear and convincing evidence” regarding any potential wrongdoing, she said.
The primary dentist at the clinic is listed on the group’s website as Dr. Charles Keithline, a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and a diplomate of the board.
Keithline’s attorney, Kyle Sweet of Oklahoma City, said the dentist could not comment about the patient, citing patient privacy laws.
Campbell said an associate of Keithline’s performed the procedure.
Only seven people in Oklahoma are known to have died after being sedated at a dentist’s office, she said. Many were ruled natural deaths after investigations because the patients were found to have had pre-existing medical conditions, such as heart disease or asthma.
Before Akasmse’s death, the last death linked to sedation at a dental office was that of a 6-year-old boy in Muskogee six years ago, Campbell said.
In that case, the investigation found that a pharmacy erred by providing the patient a lethal dose of methadone instead of the prescribed sedative, she said. The dentist was exonerated.
According to the American Dental Association, the use of sedation and general anesthesia has been an integral part of dental practice since the 1840s.
If properly administered by trained personnel, sedation and general anesthesia are safe and effective, allowing millions of people access to comprehensive dental care who otherwise would not get it, the ADA says.
The ADA sets guidelines for the industry regarding the use of sedation and offers continuing education on proper monitoring and airway management during the use of general anesthesia.
Officials with the Oklahoma Dental Association would not comment.