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Bill Requiring the California Dental Board To Study Pediatric Anesthesia Deaths Passes Unanimously Out of Committee

On April 5, Caleb’s Law (AB 2235) passed unanimously out of the California Assembly’s Business and Professions Committee. The bill calls for the Dental Board to create a committee to investigate children’s deaths occurring as a result of the use of anesthesia in dental procedures.

The bill is named after Caleb Sears, a six year old boy who died after an oral surgeon administered anesthesia during a routine surgery to pull a tooth. Caleb’s parents authored the bill along with Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) after learning that dentists and oral surgeons are the only medical providers who can administer anesthesia themselves without an anesthesiologist present.

The original version of the bill contained a provision requiring oral surgeons to warn parents that there “greater risk of an adverse event, including but not limited to death, if the same person is performing the procedure and administering general anesthesia or deep sedation.” This provision was eliminated after industry opposition, including opposition from the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, threatened to kill the bill.

Ensuring the safety of children during dental and oral surgery procedures is a public health issue. Many feel that allowing dental providers to administer anesthesia to children puts profits over patient safety, and should be banned entirely. AB 2235 is a good first step