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Dentist accused over death of 2-yr-old girl anesthetized for cavity treatment

FUKUOKA -- Police are set to refer papers to prosecutors accusing a male dentist over the death of a 2-year-old girl anesthetized for cavity treatment at a clinic he headed in 2017, sources close to the investigation said.

The Fukuoka Prefectural Police decided on March 7 to send papers to the Fukuoka District Public Prosecutors Office accusing the dentist in his 50s of professional negligence resulting in death over the fatal incident. The 2-year-old patient died after treatment at a dental clinic in Kasuga, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Prefectural police officials judged it was highly likely the girl, Noa Yamaguchi from Kasuga, would have survived had the dentist not overlooked the change in her condition and taken proper response such as calling an ambulance.

According to Noa's family, she visited the clinic for cavity treatment on the evening of July 1, 2017. A female dentist injected anesthesia into the girl's gum and treated her for about 50 minutes. Shortly afterwards, Noa became limp, with her eyes unfocused.

Even though her parents asked the male dentist, who took over her care from the female dentist, to take necessary measures, the male dentist just said it was nothing unusual and did not take steps such as calling an emergency service.

Noa rested for a while inside the clinic but started to have convulsions about one hour later, prompting her parents to drive her to a nearby emergency hospital.

She remained unconscious and died shortly past noon on July 3, 2017.

An autopsy found that the girl had suffered hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or brain damage from lack of oxygen, due to acute intoxication from lidocaine anesthetic.

The male dentist claims that his "response was appropriate," according to a lawyer representing him. The clinic shut down after the fatal incident.

(Japanese original by Makoto Kakizaki, Kyushu News Department)

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