Wisdom Teeth Death: How Did A Routine Procedure Kill Marek Lapinski?

By iScienceTimes Staff on April 4, 2013 4:41 PM EDT

Marek Lapinski
According to Fox 5, medical records showed measurements of Marek’s oxygen saturation levels every five minutes. For the first 20 minutes of his oral surgery, his saturation levels remained at 99 percent. At 25 minutes, there was no register. The last entry registered at 43 percent. (Photo: Facebook / MarekLapinskiMemorial)

The death following the removal of wisdom teeth from a 24-year-old California man has his family questioning the medical care he received during such a routine oral procedure late last month, according to reports.

Marek Lapinski, a software developer from San Diego, Calif., experienced complications during his wisdom teeth removal on March 21, including waking up and coughing as NBC Bay Area notes. As a result, Lapinski was given the powerful anesthetic propofol, the same anesthetic that killed Michael Jackson.

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However, his condition quickly deteriorated and he went into cardiac arrest. Lapinski was transferred first to Rancho Springs Medical Center from the office of Dr. Steven Paul, Lapinski's surgeon in Temecula, Calif., then to UCLA Medical Center, where he died three days after the procedure on March 24.

"What's most shocking is the healthy 24-year-old goes in for an operation as routine as having his wisdom teeth removed and dies in the process," said Tony Keiser, a friend of the Lapinski family, to ABCNews.com. "It's inconceivable."

The aforementioned complications developed 30 minutes into the surgery, according to a website created in Lapinski's honor.

When Lapinski stopped breathing, an ambulance report stated that he was given CPR and paramedics were called. After they arrived, they found two pieces of surgical gauze and a small surgical cone in Lapinski's airway as they tried to intubate him.

At the same time, Marek's sister Natalie was told by a UCLA Medical Center nurse she spoke to that her brother "was given way too much anesthesia." The pulmonary doctor at the hospital told Marek's mother April that her son's wisdom teeth death "looked like an overdose to him."

"I really pray to God that there's a hell of an investigation on this," Keiser said.

April Lapinski, told ABCNews.com that Paul had come to UCLA Medical Center to apologize for what had happened.

"He did come, and he, you know, he said he was sorry," she said. "He didn't have any other explanations for me."

Paul hasn't yet commented on the wisdom teeth death of Lapinski, but his attorney, Clark Hudson, released a statement via email that said in part: "Dr. Steven Paul has always provided the highest level of oral surgery care to his patients ... However, safe as oral surgery is in today's environment, no surgical procedure is without risk."

According to the statement, immediate measures were taken to revive Lapinski after his condition began to deteriorate following the propofol injection.

"The reason for the patient's decompensation is unknown. However, all standard protocols were followed," Hudson said.

The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office has performed an autopsy, but no cause of death has been revealed yet.  

April Lapinski, who wants a full investigation of her son's death, which came after what Keiser said was the administration of six drugs during surgery, told ABCNews.com that her family was waiting for the coroner's report before deciding if it would pursue legal action.

"Now we wake up every morning and can't believe it," she said. "It's just one big bad dream."

Marek Lapinski, who had grown up in Wexford, Penn., and attended and played football at Duquesne University before moving to the San Diego area for work, was a co-founder of a San Diego company called Total 3rd Dimension, which developed thermal and night-vision equipment for military use, according to the website created in his honor.

A day before his surgery, Lapinski had tweeted, "gettin my wisdom teeth out tomorrow. Loading up on some #soup and #yogurt."

A memorial page for Lapinski has also been set up on Facebook. The website in his honor also includes a way to make donations for a memorial fund.

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