The parents of a 14-month-old who died after a dental procedure in North Austin have filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The suit names the dentist, the dentist's office, an anesthesiologist and the Texan Anesthesiology Association.
14-month-old Daisy Lynn Torres visited Austin Children's Dentistry in March 2016 to have two cavities filled, but her mother said once she was at the office; the dentist told her she actually needed four crowns as well.
“We still think about her every day,” said Betty Squire, Daisy Lynn’s mother.
Nothing can take away the pain Betty and Elizandro Torres have had to live with for the last year after their 14-month-old daughter died during a dental procedure gone horribly wrong.
“Heartbreaking ... it was just devastating,” Squire said.
The lawsuit says Daisy Lynn was put under anesthesia at Austin Children's Dentistry while the dentist performed root canals on four of her baby teeth. She never woke up.
“Nothing was okay. I mean, he was lying. He was lying to me, trying to reassure me that everything was fine and it wasn't. She had already gone into cardiac arrest at the dentist’s office,” said Squire.
An autopsy found Daisy Lynn died of complications due to anesthesia. A dental expert in the report said there was no evidence of dental disease.
“Something that was supposed to be supposedly two cavities turned into six cavities and, when the report came back, it came back there was no indication of any cavities and he did, he took advantage of me, he took advantage of my baby,” Squire said.
She now believes the entire procedure was a case of Medicaid fraud.
“The proof is in the X-rays ... He was committing fraud. Our baby died from greed and negligence,” said Squire.
She and Eli want to warn others that they too could become a victim.
“We want to be sure parents are aware of how bad it can be and they have a right to ask questions and get second and third opinions if they feel it's necessary,” Torres said.
The family's lawyer, Sean Breen, said while investigating the case in order to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf, he was contacted by other families who also feel they were pressured by Dr. Michael Melanson to get dental procedures done that may not have been necessary.
“Unfortunately, it's been quite common to have a problem with Medicaid fraud at children's dentist office’s across the country. It's not unique here or to any particular state,” Breen said.
While Squire and Torres said they wish they had asked more questions, Breen said most parents believe what a doctor says when it involves helping their children.
“When a parent goes in with their child and trusts their child's health to a medical provider, there's no greater trust. You can't possibly be more vulnerable than when you give the life of your child to a provider,” Breen said.
Now there's only one thing that will provide any relief to Betty and Eli.
“Nothing will ever bring her back, but if we can save other children in the process, and prevent this from happening again it will be worth it,” said Torres.
A spokesperson for Austin Children's Dentistry said they cannot comment on pending litigation. They did confirm that Dr. Melanson is no longer practicing with their company.
Austin Children's Dentistry has also filed a lawsuit against the forensic dentist who said Daisy Lynn had no evidence of dental disease at the time of her death.