A shamed dentist has been prosecuted on fraud charges and is at the centre of a legal battle against Birmingham Dental Hospital, after he pumped a patient full of drugs without her consent in a botched tooth extraction that left his patient in pain and suffering from anxiety and flashbacks for months.
The woman from Rednal was left terrified and unable to talk or move whilst in the dental chair under going a tooth extraction carried out by oral surgeon Behnam Aghabeigi at the dental hospital in August 2010.
At the time of the operation or shortly afterwards, Mr Aghabeigi was under investigation by the hospital after he was accused of defrauding the NHS to gain prescriptions for a heroin-like drug he was addicted to.
He pleaded guilty to 12 charges of fraud and was given a community order in October 2011. As a result of the charges he was dismissed from his role at the dental hospital. He was also suspended from the General Dental Council in May 2012 for six months.
The patient was advised that Mr Aghabeigi would undertake the operation whilst she was under sedation. She already had a fear of dentists after a previous dental procedure had gone wrong and did not want to be given nitrious oxide (gas and air) during the procedure to remove her lower left molar because she’d had a bad reaction to it as a youngster.
In an extreme case of negligence Mr Aghabeigi first gave her an unknown drug, which the patient’s lawyers allege was the antidote to the sedative. He then gave her the sedative which did not work. Instead of telling the patient that he had made a mistake he attempted to give her a local anaesthetic. When this did not work he then gave her gas and air and began to remove her tooth.
The woman, who had never consented to be given gas and air, said that by the time he put the mask on her she was under the influence of so many drugs that she was unable to talk. She said she felt totally out of control and was terrified but was physically unable to ask him to stop. At the end of the operation her husband had to support her to their car and she remained ill in bed for the next four days.
In the end the extraction wasn’t successful and she suffered an infection and had to return to the hospital several months later to have the rest of her tooth removed under sedation by a different surgeon.
The hospital has since admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £15,000. Shortly after the operation, Mr Aghabeigi was sacked from the hospital.
The patient said: “I already had a fear of dentists and was worried about getting my tooth extracted. They told me that Mr Aghabeigi was the best and assured me the procedure would be done under sedation so I wouldn’t have to worry.
“I put my faith into Mr Aghabeigi and never considered for a moment that he was pumping me full of the wrong drugs. I was in so much pain afterwards and I was suffering from anxiety. I felt violated that he hadn’t asked my consent and shocked that he never told me what drugs he had given me.”
Ravi Subramanian, UNISON Regional Secretary in the West Midlands, said: “This is a shocking case of negligence. Our member was already deeply worried about visiting the dentist, and was given assurances that her surgeon was good, and that her wishes to not be given gas and air would be respected – but on both counts the dental hospital was wrong. During her botched tooth extraction she was terrified, and it not only left her in pain but caused her to suffer from anxiety and flashbacks for many months to come. The dental hospital must put procedures in place to make sure no-one else has to suffer in a similar way ever again.”
Sian Thompson from Thompsons Solicitors, who took the case for the union, added: “Our client put her trust in Birmingham Dental Hospital but was instead left terrified and unable to communicate her fears. She was ill for several months afterwards and had to undergo another operation to fully extract her tooth. For someone who already had a fear of dentists this was like something out of her worst nightmare. She should never have been given drugs without her consent and checks should have been in place to ensure that she was given the correct drugs and dosage.”
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