Published November 02, 2007
SYRACUSE, N.Y – A dentist was dancing to the song "Car Wash" when the inch-long drill bit he was using during an extraction punctured a woman's sinus cavity and lodged near her eye socket, according to a lawsuit.
Brandy Fanning, 31, of Syracuse said she had to undergo emergency surgery and spent three days in the hospital because of the mishap. Fanning said she still suffers facial swelling, nerve damage and chronic infections from the bacteria that seeped into her sinus cavity.
Fanning is seeking $600,000 for her medical expenses, pain and suffering in the lawsuit filed against Dr. George Trusty in U.S. District Court in Syracuse last month.
Trusty, 57, a dentist at Syracuse Community Health Center, declined comment. Dr. Ruben Cowart, president and chief executive officer of the health center, also declined to speak about the incident.
Fanning, a mother of three who works for Verizon, said she went to the emergency dental clinic at the health center in October 2004 after pain in a left molar started getting worse. An exposed nerve made it sensitive to heat and cold and a root canal had been ruled out as a possible option, the lawsuit said.
Trusty gave her some Novocain and while he was drilling to break the molar into quadrants before the extraction, Fanning heard a snap, she said.
As Trusty was doing the procedure, he was "performing rhythmical steps and movements to the song Car Wash," which was on the radio in the dental suite, according to the lawsuit.
Trusty tried to use a metal hook to pull the bit out, but that only pushed it farther up, driving it through the sinus and bone, the lawsuit alleged. When Fanning asked what was happening, Trusty told her it wasn't a big deal and that she'd likely sneeze the drill bit out, the lawsuit said.
She then expressed alarm and Trusty called an oral surgeon, who was a friend, to get Fanning an appointment. Trusty made the call in front of Fanning. When he got off the phone, he told her she needed to get to an emergency room immediately, according to the lawsuit.
Fanning said doctors told her later that if she'd sneezed with the bit still inside, she could have blinded her left eye.
Fanning claimed Trusty failed on a promise to pay her medical bills, so she filed the lawsuit. The case is in federal court because the health center operates under federal law, which limits the amount of damages it can agree to settle.