A man who was receiving treatment for root canal died in the dental chair in Melbourne, Australia. On Tuesday, a Victorian coronial inquest into Mr Anderson’s unexpected death heard detailed accounts of the last moments of his life.
Michael Anderson (36) went into cardiorespiratory arrest after being given the sedative Propofol before the procedure. His breathing stopped shortly after he was administered the same drug that killed Michael Jackson.
Jeff Dart, acting sergeant of the Victoria Police, said Mr Anderson attended Collins Street Specialist Dental Centre on April 18, 2017. At 8:45am, Mr Anderson was “seated and reclining in the dental chair,” according to The Australian.
Anderson was sedated for the procedure, which consists of drilling into the tooth to remove decay. He was an obese man, who the court heard had a slightly enlarged heart’ and ‘diseased arteries’.
However, anaesthetist Anthony Singh administered three 50mg doses of Propofol over 10 minutes and by 9:15am, Mr Anderson’s breathing had stopped. He was taken to Alfred Hospital, where he was declared dead by 10:48am.
His death is now the subject of a Coroner’s Court of Victoria inquest to investigate whether the 36-year-old’s death could have been prevented.
Expert witness, Forbes McGain told the court that the case has “two areas of concern.” Despite lowering blood pressure being one of the side-effects of Propofol, there was no record of Mr Anderson’s blood pressure being documented before or after the administration. He said “close attention” to blood pressure would have been “very important”.
“My concern is that blood pressure was not monitored for a drug that we know lowers blood pressure,” he said.
McGain said it is common for blood pressure to fall after receiving Propofol. So common, that it was “almost routine” for anaesthetists to need a second drug, called Metaraminol. This is used to increase blood pressure and prevent cardiac arrest.
“It’s an incredibly dangerous drug that needs to be very, very carefully (used) with great attention to detail,” said the anaesthetist and intensive care physician.
“Propofol will always, if you give enough of it, cause you to stop breathing. [It] causes both a respiratory depression and a cardiovascular depression.
Dr Singh’s lawyer argued that Mr Anderson’s blood pressure was being automatically monitored by a machine. However, Dr McGain said recordings still should have been made prior to sedation and after each dose to track it.
The other concern for Dr McGain was the small size of the dental surgery. He said it hampered the efforts of paramedics of entering and effectively administering first aid.
“The problem of having a large man arresting in a dental clinic way up in a multistorey building which the Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance paramedics describe as being cramped and difficult to access.”
The inquest will resume in February.
In the years prior to Jackson’s death, the King of Pop became increasingly addicted to the drug. Propofol is a hospital-grade anaesthetic, needed to be administered either by intravenous drip, or injection.
The pop star hired an array of personal physicians to administer the drug in order to sleep and referred to it as his “milk” because of its milky appearance.