N.C. Dental Board questions patient's death

The Associated Press

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RALEIGH — The N.C. Dental Board is reviewing the death of a patient who had been placed under sedation.

The board thinks Dr. Zachary Harrison of Williamston used sedation drugs on a patient who was not a good candidate for the procedure and died Oct. 1, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported.

The board issued an emergency suspension of Harrison on Dec. 2. The suspension is based on preliminary evidence while the board reviews the case.

Harrison may continue to practice and can use nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, while the case is being reviewed.

The state dental board will try to determine whether Zachary Harrison was at fault in the death of his patient. The findings could lead to a range of results, from restoration of his permit to a full revocation of his license.

Harrison would not talk about the case based on advice from his attorney.

The suspension comes two months after a Cary dentist, Toni Mascherin, lost her license following a patient's death under sedation. Mascherin announced her retirement and sold her practice.

The deaths are likely to lead to a review of the state's dental protocols, said Bobby White, the board's chief executive.

"We're kind of floored by it here. It's taken us with a great deal of sadness," White said. "Two families have suffered."

He said the board may set up an advisory panel to focus on training requirements for dentists who want to use sedation.

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