NC dentist loses license after 2 patients die after her care


HIGH POINT, N.C. (WFMY) — The North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners revoked the license of Shawana Patterson, D.D.S. after the Board found her actions led or contributed to the death of two patients.

The Board issued its decision in January 2019, effectively revoking Dr. Patterson’s license to practice dentistry in the state and also her general anesthesia permit.  

Patterson’s practice was called Patterson Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, located at 801 Phillips Ave. in High Point.  The signs are still up, but no one was at the business when WFMY News 2 stopped by Monday afternoon.

The revocations all stems from two cases, the first being in November 2017.

The Board’s decision details that on Nov. 9, 2017, a patient listed as RG went in for treatment. The report says Dr. Patterson did not request medical records or permission from the patient’s primary care doctor, which would have disclosed health history that would have been imperative for the procedure.

The report goes on to say that Dr. Patterson started to perform the procedure using general anesthesia, despite failing to get the medical information that would have indicated the patient shouldn’t have had the surgery. The Board found Patterson used “excessive” anesthesia, causing the blood pressure to drop and cut off oxygen to the patient’s vital organs.

At one point, the report says Patterson’s oral surgery assistant testified that the patient was turning “bluish-gray” but Patterson dismissed the concern and proceeded with the procedure.  

The patient eventually became unresponsive and the office called for help.

First responders brought patient RG to what was then High Point Regional Health where doctors found he suffered several neurological problems consistent with brain damage from deprivation of oxygen.

The patient later died on Feb. 11, 2018.  One of his doctors testified Patterson’s treatment caused or contributed to RG’s death.

Want to see if your dentist has ever had disciplinary action? Check online here.

Just more than a month after RG’s death, another patient had to be hospitalized after treatment from Dr. Patterson.

In the report, this patient is called DM. DM indicated to Dr. Patterson that she had kidney problems and had a dialysis catheter. The Board says Dr. Patterson did not contact or consult with DM’s physician or try to get medical records that would have indicated DM should not have received anesthesia outside of a hospital setting.

The report goes on to say Patterson continued to put the patient under using general anesthesia, “disregarding contemporaneous data demonstrating that doing so was contraindicated and potentially very dangerous.”

The report says the patient suffered from what seemed to be respiratory and cardiac arrest. When Dr. Patterson realized this, the report says she attempted basic life support measures and administered reversal agents, but did not use an AED or administer epinephrine to try and revive the patient.

First responders took DM to the hospital. She was being looked at for brain damage and eventually died after cardiac arrest on April 1, 2018. Doctors testified that Dr. Patterson’s care caused or contributed to her cardiac arrest and eventual death.

In a phone interview, Bobby White, the Chief Executive Officer of the state Dental Board says they turn all their findings over to a national database to let other states know if a dentist lost their license and why.

“It’s virtually impossible for them to escape that mark on their record and a revocation in one state generally means another state will not issue a license,” he explains.

He says the Board gets roughly 250-300 complaints a year for dentists and dental hygienists and they investigate every one. Most investigations stem from a complaint, but it could take several months to a couple of years to investigate.

White says the Board will send redacted evidence to expert witnesses and wait for their assessment to see if there was any wrongdoing. In Patterson’s case, the Board found she “poses a significant risk to the public” after considering witness testimony.

I think the takeaway from this particular case is that the system works,” White tells. “It doesn’t always work as quickly people like, but it did work. This person is now not able to harm people in North Carolina with the practice of dentistry anymore.”

If you want to file a complaint with the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners, you can find the form online.

You can also check the status of your own dentist’s license online.

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