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Horrific dental ordeal: Drill ends up lodged in Woman's lungs

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 1st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The worst dental nightmare imaginable pales into what a Swedish woman in her sixties had to recently endure. Undergoing the arduous surgery for dental implants, the drill came loosed from her dentist's hand, fell into her mouth - and wound up in her lungs!

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The horrific incident was recounted in the English-language Swedish newspaper The Local. "She tried to spit it out, and was made to cough, but she'd already swallowed," the hospital's medical boss Per Weitz told reporters.

The unnamed woman was a patient at Västmanland County Hospital in Västerås, in central Sweden.

Doctors reportedly tried to sit her up, but she had already swallowed it. Pulled into a sitting position, it was too late to stop the drill heading south.

The drill head is said to have been three centimeters long. When an X-ray was performed on the woman, it revealed the part had lodged itself in her right lung.

Performing a bronchoscopy, doctor did an examination of the major air passages of the lungs to remove it.

"A pinky-sized tube was sent into her lung with a small camera and pliers to grab hold of the drill," Weitz says.

The patient left the hospital the following day after her bronchoscopy -- but it apparently took her a month to get over the ordeal.

The hospital has now introduced new procedures to try and avoid the event from happening again, such as double-checking that the drill head is attached properly, and testing it in the air before using it on a patient.

Weitz acknowledges the new plan may not be fail-safe. "Unfortunately, drills are going to be dropped every now and then," he added.

"The kind of dental error or professional malpractice act that is most likely to occur in dentistry is a lack of proper performance," one Web site dedicated to medical malpractice reads.

"Up to forty five percent of claims of medical malpractice filed will have to do with a kind of dental procedure or performance, personal technique, or procedural execution that led to an injury in a patient. The second most common type of incident that has to do with dentistry is an error in diagnosis, or diagnostic error.

"In the past, it has been a difficult incident for dentists to defend themselves against. The injuries that are most likely to result tend to involve jaws that are fractured, infections, scarring in the face, loss of teeth, tempro mandibular joint injuries, and nerve damage."

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