Health authority apologise to teenager’s family

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NHS Lothian Logo

By ALEXANDER LAWRIE

A SCOTTISH health body has been forced to apologise to the family of a teenager with learning difficulties after dentists removed eight of his teeth without permission.

The trauma was so bad the unnamed 19 year-old screamed the words “dentist – sore” over a year and a half after the treatment was forced upon him.

The angry mum made an official complaint after her son began to develop a large, infected sore following the distressful event made him bite down onto his bottom lip.

The vulnerable youngster, who does not have the mental capacity to make his own decisions, has also started to resist anyone trying to clean his teeth.

NHS Lothian has now officially apologised to the woman – known only as Mrs C – and vowed to learn from the experience after an investigation by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

Mrs C first attended St John’s Hospital in Livingston in May 2007 and claimed she did not have the chance to decide on the amount of work that was undertaken on her son.

Large volume of dentist work

She was under the impression he would only be having one tooth removed and a proper oral inspection could only be done under general anaesthetic because of the boy’s condition.

While Mrs C was initially told further work would need to be carried out at some stage, the mum was not told about the eight extractions until all the work had been completed.

She said such a large volume or dental work should have been staggered over a period of time and the impact of the surgery has made her job as a carer even more difficult.

NHS Lothian argued that placing a patient under general anaesthetic was a “real risk” and that doineg as much as possible in such a vulnerable state was the sensible option.

However, the authority has now back-tracked and a full apology has been issued after the Ombudsman’s intervention.

Melanie Hornett, the health board’s director of nursing, said: “I would like to apologise to Mrs C for any distress caused to her and her family.

“This case highlights the importance of good communication and record-keeping. We accept the recommendations in the report and these are now being acted on.

“It should be acknowledged that the report finds no criticism of the clinical treatment provided.

“NHS Lothian always takes complaints very seriously.”

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