Caleb’s Law seeks to increase the safety of administering and monitoring general anesthesia/deep sedation to children during dental procedures.

 

The follow up bill to Caleb's Law, AB224, is going to be heard and voted on by the California State Assembly Committee on Business and Professions on Tuesday, April 25th. This critical bill will actually change the way anesthesia is done in dental offices and it will immediately make it safer for children undergoing sedation and anesthesia. The bill, authored by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, will enact the recommendations made by the California Dental Board to improve safety.

In 2015, six year-old Caleb died as a result of unsafe dental anesthesia practices.  As a result, a team of family and friends made up of medical, legal and policy professionals were motivated to find out why it happened and could it have been prevented.  What we found was alarming.  We learned of other Californian children who have died in similar circumstances. Anonymized reports obtained from the Dental Board of California indicate that there were at least four pediatric deaths in 2015. And, most disconcerting is that some oral surgeons are the only healthcare professionals who operate and administer anesthesia simultaneously, without a separate anesthesia provider, and many do not use modern monitoring technologies.

 

Caleb's Law was signed into law by Governor Brown on September 23, 2016 and it went into effect on January 1, 2017.  

 

·      It requires that the Dental Board of California establish a committee to study the safety of pediatric anesthesia in dental offices and whether additional safety measures would reduce the potential for injury or death in minors. These finding will be reported to the Board and be made publicly available.

 

·      It requires that people licensed by the Dental Board to administer general anesthesia inform a child’s parent or guardian of the differing practice models and safety precautions currently in place.

 

·       It facilitates the epidemiological study of pediatric anesthesia and sedation by requiring the Dental Board to collect more information regarding adverse events.

 

Many thanks to Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, the author of Caleb's Law (AB 2235).

 

If you are considering a dental procedure involving general anesthesia or deep sedation, for you or your child, there are questions you should ask:

1. Will there be a separate person, an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist, in the room to monitor your vital signs?

2. Will they use capnography, EKG, and continuous pulse oximetry to monitor you?

If the answer to either question is "no," you should seriously consider whether you are okay with that risk. Caleb's law would require dentists and oral surgeons to inform parents of that information without parents needing to know enough about anesthesia to ask on their own. Please help us keep kids safe.