Surgery bites; patient awakens to dental work damage
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Sandra Moore says she's felt self-conscious about chewing, and smiling ever since she had follow-up gynecological surgery last June.
The operation went fine.
"But when I woke up, I had no front teeth! Nobody would tell me anything," she says.
Her two-piece, 13-year-old front dental bridgework was gone. So were the two natural teeth on either side that held it in place.
She says a nurse from the anesthesia practice, Anesthesiologists Associated, told her that she was sorry.
"But they claimed gritted my teeth during surgery and that's how I had broken 'em! Broken ‘em off myself!"
She wasn't biting.
But the dentist's bill to replace the bridgework sure did.
"$6,000 total, and my insurance paid $1,000 on that," Sandra says.
Moore maintains that whoever withdrew her anesthesia tube yanked out her bridgework with it.
Come January, she asked a lawyer to write a letter to Anesthesiologists Associated, requesting the practice pay the $5,000 balance.
Eyewitness News contacted Anesthesiologists Associated Thursday afternoon. Nurse Joan Futrell told us that medical privacy laws preclude discussing issues regarding specific patients; directing all calls to the practice's legal representative, whom she declined to identify.
Futrell did say that protecting a patient's air passages takes top priority during surgery.
Prior to her surgery last June 22, Moore signed a waiver that acknowledged she understood the risks of anesthesia. Among the risks listed; damage to dental work.
"I'm gonna file a formal complaint with the Tennessee Board of Licensed Physicians, and with the Chattanooga Medical Society," Moore says.
The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society will investigate disputes with doctors, according to Executive Director Rae Bond.
The Society requires patients to file a formal grievance and waive privacy rights so that a committee of physicians may review medical histories and treatment records and protocols.
The review committee does not have the authority to fine or censure if it finds evidence of wrongdoing, Bond says. But it can report such evidence to a medical professional's respective licensure board.
The Society will not investigate if the patient is seeking legal redress through civil action.
Moore says she has no interest in suing.
"All I want is that they cover my dental work."
Her dentist has yet to be paid the balance of her bill. With nine months' interest, it totals more than $5,075.