Epinephrine allegedly used against patient’s wishes

The plaintiff, a woman in her early thirties, consulted with the defendant oral surgeon regarding the extraction of a tooth. The plaintiff recalled advising the defendant that she did not want to use epinephrine as a local anesthetic because she had a prior heart attack that she linked to the drug. The plaintiff also signed an informed consent form that was a little less clear- it indicated that the defendant should not use a local anesthetic that would raise her heart rate.

The procedure went forward, and the defendant proceeded to extract tooth #30. He also decided to use epinephrine (via Lidocaine) as a local anesthetic. The defendant used a very small dose that he described as being well within the dosage recommended by the AHA. When the defendant informed the plaintiff of this, she immediately objected verbally and threw up her hands to stop him. The plaintiff would later recall that her heart began to race shortly after the drug was administered.

When the plaintiff left the office after the procedure, the defendant allegedly mocked her and was verbally abusive. The defendant denied this account.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant oral surgeon, claiming that the defendant committed medical battery by giving her the drug without her consent. The defendant denied the allegations and maintained that he had an implied consent to use the drug via the language used in the informed consent form. The defendant noted that the dosage was small and moreover, it was a local anesthetic; the plaintiff’s prior problem occurred when epinephrine was injected.

At the conclusion of the trial, the jury returned a defense verdict, ruling in favor of the defendant oral surgeon.

With permission from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts; Lewis Laska, Editor, 901 Church St., Nashville, TN 37203-3411, 1-800-298-6288.