A former Texas dentist was sentenced to probation last week for botching a routine dental procedure that left a 4-year-old girl with permanent brain damage, but her family is furious. .
A jury found Bethaniel Jefferson, 46, guilty of one count of recklessly causing bodily injury to Nevaeh Hall by failing to call 911 for nearly five hours after the child had a seizure. He was then given a “slap on the wrist.” FOX26 reported.
Nevae, now 11 years old, can no longer see, talk, walk or eat.
“It’s completely unfair. Obviously she should be in prison, not one or two years. She should be in prison for a really long time,” said the girl’s mother, Coulissa Clark, a local. told the news station.
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The child’s grandmother, Clara Clarke, read a victim impact statement at the sentencing, after waiting eight years for the trial.
“The right thing to do was to call 911, but you refused to do so even though you knew she was in trouble. I’d even say it was an accident, but you… When he refused to seek help, it became a crime,” she told FOX26. .
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“Mr. Nevaeh’s current state has been a living hell emotionally, physically, mentally and financially,” she added in an interview after the lawsuit.
According to the decision to revoke Jefferson’s license, in January 2016, he sedated Nevae to remove the decayed pulp and part of the tooth, but the girl began to “shake violently”. He reportedly had several seizures.
Instead of calling 911, Jefferson tried to treat the girl with more sedatives, which caused her to vomit. For nearly five hours, Nevaeh’s blood oxygen levels were extremely low, leaving her cold and convulsing.
But even though Mr. Jefferson repeatedly called his pastor and pharmacy to ask about drug interactions, it wasn’t until 4:30 p.m. that an ambulance was called.
The day after Nevae was admitted to Texas Children’s Hospital, ER doctors found her vitals stable but in a “comatose state,” according to the board’s decision.
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She did not open her eyes and did not respond to external stimuli. The lack of oxygen to her brain caused catastrophic damage. She will require 24-hour care for the rest of her life, her board’s decision noted.
The ER doctor reported Ms. Jefferson to the dental board, and the former dentist took responsibility for her failure at a hearing.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the family filed a civil lawsuit and won $95.5 million in damages, but the full amount was not paid because the amount exceeded the coverage of Jefferson’s medical malpractice insurance.
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Nevaeh’s father was appalled at the lenient punishment.
“It’s really hard. It’s really hard. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second. My daughter’s life is forever changed,” Derrick Hall told FOX26. “Her life needs to change forever too. A slap on the wrist for her? Come on, that’s not right. It’s not right.”