After a 24-year-old California man died from complications of a wisdom teeth removal, his family is questioning what went wrong during an otherwise routine operation.
Marek Lapinski, a vice president for a software developer and former college football player, woke up coughing in the middle of an operation on March 21 and required the powerful anesthetic propofol to complete the procedure, according to a patient care report from American Medical Response, an ambulance company.
Three days later, Lapinski was dead, ABC News reports. The incident has led his family and friends to question the conduct of Steven Paul, an oral surgeon in Temecula, Calif., who performed the procedure.
"What's most shocking is the healthy 24-year-old goes in for an operation as routine as having his wisdom teeth removed and dies in the process," Tony Keiser, a family friend, told ABC News. "It's inconceivable."
According to a post-operation report, Paul informed paramedics that Lapinski woke up during the wisdom teeth removal with a cough, prompting the doctor to administer propofol. At some point, Lapinski stopped breathing and needed CPR as well as assistance from paramedics.
The patient care report said paramedics discovered two pieces of surgical gauze obstructing Lapinski’s airway, ABC News reports.
"I really pray to God that there's a hell of an investigation on this," Keiser said.
The patient's mother, April Lapinksi told ABC News, that Paul came to the hospital to apologize for the sudden death of her son.
"He did come, and he, you know, he said he was sorry," she said. "He didn't have any other explanations for me."
In a statement, the doctor's attorney, Clark Hudson, said, "Dr. Steven Paul has always provided the highest level of oral surgery care to his patients. However, safe as oral surgery is in today's environment, no surgical procedure is without risk."
The statement said that when Lapinski's condition began to worsen, Paul took immediate action.
"The reason for the patient's decompensation is unknown," Hudson said. "However, all standard protocols were followed."
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office plans to perform an autopsy on Thursday, ABC News reports. Lapinski’s mother said that the family will wait for the results before deciding on potential legal action.
"Now, we wake up every morning and can't believe it," she said. "It's just one big bad dream."