The Washington State Department of Health has taken disciplinary action against a local physician in connection with the death of a 4-year-old Vancouver boy, who died after receiving general anesthesia for a dental procedure in March 2017.
Dr. Chester C. Hu administered the anesthesia to Mykel Wayne Peterson during a March 10, 2017, visit to Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry in Vancouver. While in the recovery room, the boy stopped breathing. He was transported to the hospital but could not be resuscitated.
The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office in June 2017 announced the boy died of multiple drug intoxication from anesthesia.
According to a state Department of Health news release, Hu didn’t appropriately use monitoring equipment, and didn’t assign a properly trained and certified person to continuously monitor Mykel.
“Hu’s failure to meet the standard of care put the patient at grievous risk of harm and contributed to his death,” the news release states.
The medical commission entered an agreement with Hu, which fines him $5,000 and places conditions on his practice. It’s unclear if he is still actively practicing medicine.
Must Love Kids confirmed that Hu hasn’t worked with the dental office since Mykel’s death. Hu was considered an independent contractor for Northwest Mobile Anesthesia Group, which he also hasn’t worked for since March 2017.
The state health department’s Dental Quality Assurance Commission filed charges Feb. 6 against dentists Prashant Gagneja and Monisha Gagneja, the couple who own Must Love Kids, alleging unprofessional conduct. The dental commission asserts that Must Love Kids did not have a written contract with Northwest Mobile Anesthesia Group to administer services, according to commission documents.
The dentists refute the allegations; the action is still pending.
In addition to the fine, “Hu must complete orientation, make personal appearances, and adhere to guidelines for monitoring and managing sedation procedures for pediatric dental patients,” according to the news release. “He must submit to practice reviews, follow pre-anesthesia and recovery procedures, and see that support personnel conform to the standard of care.”
Hu will also be required to write and present a “scholarly paper” about anesthesia and the sedation risks.
Hu has been licensed to practice in Washington since 2000. Attempts to reach him Thursday for comment were unsuccessful.
Mykel, who had developmental delays, was a patient of Must Love Kids for about two years before his death. He received anesthesia successfully from the owner of Northwest Mobile Anesthesia Group in 2014 and 2015, and general anesthesia was recommended for the 2017 visit, according to the charging documents.
On his March 10, 2017, visit, Hu injected Mykel with ketamine and Versed, two sedation drugs, and in the operating room, propofol and nitrous oxide provided ongoing anesthesia. He also received fentanyl, the charging documents state.
After the procedure concluded, Mykel was taken to a recovery room. Hu monitored the boy at first, then turned his care over to a medical assistant so he could work with another patient. The medical assistant checked on the boy every 10 to 15 minutes and noticed he wasn’t conscious. She placed towels on his face and neck in an attempt to stimulate him, but that didn’t work, according to the documents.
When the medical assistant noticed Mykel’s breathing had become slow and shallow, she notified Hu, who confirmed the boy’s breathing was slow and shallow before leaving the room “to briefly check on another patient,” according to the documents.
Hu then returned to discover the boy’s breathing was “significantly depressed and his lip color had darkened,” according to the documents. He stopped breathing not long after. Hu attempted to resuscitate the boy but was unsuccessful. Mykel was later pronounced dead at the hospital.