A jury in New Jersey ruled that a Perth Amboy oral surgeon committed medical malpractice in the death of patient the morning after having his wisdom teeth removed.
The jury deliberated less than three hours over two days before finding that George Flugrad committed medical malpractice when he failed to get clearance from Woodbridge patient Francis Keller’s medical doctor to remove his wisdom teeth after Keller told him he had an impaired immune system.
Keller’s family and his estate were awarded $11 million in damages. With interest combined with other settlements reached in the case, Keller’s parents will received more than $12 million, according to their attorney.
“The money will never bring my son back no matter how much I get,” Helen Keller said. “I only hope it prevents someone else from going through this heartache.”
Keller — who died 12 hours after having his teeth removed — had a hereditary condition that caused his immune system to react to any trauma to his face or hands by swelling. He had been hospitalized only two months prior to his death after his larynx swelled.
Both sides brought in expert doctors to testify to what the “standard of care” in handling the 21-year-old’s condition should have been. The attorneys also put some of the blame on Keller for his own death.
Keller visited Madaris in late July 2005 because of pain in his gums. Madaris told him he needed his wisdom teeth removed and gave him the names of two oral surgeons, including Flugrad. Keller chose Flugrad, according to testimony in the trial.
Madaris also told Keller his teeth needed a cleaning. When Keller returned days later for the cleaning, he told the dental hygienist about his condition and she would not clean his teeth without medical clearance. She contacted his doctor’s staff who told her Keller could not have any dental work until he came to see his doctor first. She testified she told Keller that he should go to his doctor before having any dental work done because of his condition.
Several days later, Keller kept an appointment he had with Flugrad.
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