A Visit to the Dentist Ends in Brain Injury

Austin Stone was just 19 years old when he acquired a brain injury that destroyed the future he and his family had planned for him. Austin visited the dentist for a routine procedure to have his wisdom teeth removed. An office plumbing mistake caused the dentist to administer the wrong gas to the patient, ultimately resulting in brain injury.

Patient Suffered From Lack of Oxygen

Visit to the Dentist Ends in Brain Injury

When the injury occurred, Austin’s dentist, Dr. Vincent, was working in a newly constructed office. An unlicensed plumber had incorrectly installed the lines that administer the nitrous oxide and oxygen gases. As he administered pre-surgery anesthesia, Dr. Vincent thought he was giving the patient nitrous oxide, but the crossed lines meant he was really giving a mixture of gas that was primarily oxygen. Without sufficient nitrous oxide, the patient did not become numb. Not understanding this, the doctor tried administering alternate means of pain relief.

First, the doctor gave Austin injections of fentanyl and diazepam (valium). When that failed, he tried propofol. Austin began to experience a normal side effect of increased heart rate. The doctor gave Austin what he thought was pure oxygen to help. Because of the crossed lines, the doctor gave Stone pure nitrous oxide instead. This caused Austin to stop breathing, and the dentists called emergency workers for assistance. By the time workers revived Austin, his brain was damaged by lack of oxygen.

Stone’s family filed suit against the company that constructed the dentist’s building and against the plumbing company that made the mistake with the lines.They also sued the City of Lawrence, KS for failing to find the problem during safety inspections. Other parties named in the lawsuit included Dr. Vincent and the company that manufactured the gas-delivering equipment, among others.

An Obvious Wrong

It is clear to anyone who hears about this case that Austin Stone suffered a wrong. While every patient must accept certain risks when undergoing even the smallest procedure, faulty medical equipment is not one of those expected risks. The case went quickly to mediation, and a judge recently approved a $50,000 settlement from the City of Lawrence. The court also awarded punitive damages $3 million to Austin for the error originating from the unlicensed plumbing company that installed the pipes.[1]

What the Lawsuit Covers

The money from the lawsuit will help Stone’s family cover the extensive medical bills for his recovery. The money will also cover future medical costs over the next few years. Because it is unlikely Stone will ever live independently, his parents were awarded part of the settlement to help with their son’s everyday living expenses.

Contact Us

If you or someone you love suffered a traumatic brain injury because of a medical mistake, contact our office right away. Our experienced, professional attorneys can explain your legal rights and options. The free consultation will set your mind at ease as you take the time to decide if filing a brain injury lawsuit is the right course of action for you.


[1] http://www.eldoradotimes.com/newsnow/x1274024470/Lawrence-settles-lawsuit-over-dental-procedure

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