Chicago 5-Year-Old in Coma After Dental Visit Dies

A five-year-old Chicago girl who never awoke from her sedation during a recent visit to the dentist died on Wednesday at Children's Memorial Hospital, a hospital official said.

Kindergartner Diamond Brownridge, who had been in a coma and on life support since the weekend dental treatment, died at around 2:30 p.m. surrounded by her family, said Julie Pesch, a hospital spokeswoman.

"She passed very peacefully and beautifully," said a family statement released by the hospital. It added that there had been no intervention by doctors and Diamond stopped breathing on her own.

Family members have said the girl received a triple dose of sedatives — an oral agent, an intravenous drug and nitrous oxide gas — during Saturday's exam at Little Angel Dental, a storefront clinic in the city's Little Village neighborhood.

She was having two cavities filled and caps placed on her lower front teeth.

Ommettress Travis, the girl's mother, has said she was asked to leave the room during the half-hour procedure. She said when she returned, her daughter was lying in the dental chair, not breathing.

State records show the girl's dentist, Hicham Riba, was licensed in the state in 1997.

A written statement from Riba on Wednesday night extended condolences to the girl's family. "(My family and I) are so sad," he said. "May God bless Diamond and her family."

Susan Hofer, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, has said that Riba's license is current and he is certified to administer anesthesia to patients.

Dentists often sedate children having dental work, Indru Punwani, the head of the pediatric dentistry department at theUniversity of Illinois Chicago, has said. But the combination of the three medications, he added, is unusual for children.

"The principle issue is what was the level of sedation and was the level of monitoring appropriate," he said.

A Chicago law firm, Clifford Law Offices, filed a petition for discovery for Diamond's family on Tuesday. Such a petition is the first step in obtaining medical records to assess whether a malpractice case has merit, explained Thomas K. Prindable, managing partner of the firm.

No lawsuit can be filed without a report from an expert saying the records have been reviewed and that they provide evidence the lawsuit has merit, he said.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge William D. Maddux granted an order Wednesday that will preserve the anesthesia equipment used on Diamond, as well as all medical records pertaining to her case.

Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times this week before Diamond died, the 40-year-old Riba said he was traumatized by what happened.

"Every time you have a tragedy like this, you pray more," he said. "I don't think I will ever go back to a normal life after an experience like this."

Riba also told the newspaper that he has voluntarily stopped administering intravenous sedation to his patients. He intended to continue in dentistry, but has not gone to his office this week, he said.

The telephone rang unanswered at Riba's home on Wednesday night.