Child Strapped into Dentist Chair Without Parental Consent

For kids (and some adults), feeling nervous about the dentist isn’t too uncommon. But something about this situation I’m about to describe could only make the experience even more terrifying.

During a dental procedure, a Georgia dentist strapped 5-year-old Elizabeth to the dental chair in what’s called a Papoose board, according to the area’s local News Channel 6. Now, this is a thing dentists can do to stabilize patients, but the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry outlines some guidelines for using these types of constraints on patients. One of the points? The dentist must get parental consent.

News Channel 6 reported when they called the dentist office, the staff told them parents sign consent forms before they will use these restraints. But from what James Crow, Elizabeth’s dad, and Evelyn Crow, Elizabeth’s grandmother, recall, the consent part didn’t happen, told the news station.

“We was sitting out in the waiting room and all of a sudden, we heard somebody screaming,” grandma told the station. That’s how they found out about the situation. Granted, it sounds like it was during the tooth-pulling procedure.

Sounds to me, from this account, that Elizabeth had a pretty traumatic experience. And while the AAPD does note restraints of this variety can help protect patients from injury, they also document the risks, which says protective stabilization, “may lead to potential serious consequences, such as physical or psychological harm.”

And, dad and grandma have the right be upset for a number of reasons. First, hearing your child screaming and finding them restrained without your knowledge would be terrifying. It would be a completely different situation if as a parent, you had signed off on it. But putting myself in the Crows’ shoes, I’d have so many questions running through my head if I walked into the room to find Elizabeth that way. Panic would set in wanting to help. I’d want answers.

Second, do you think dad is going to have a particularly easy time getting Elizabeth to go to the dentist again? I wouldn’t think so. I would think there would be some sort of fear associated with dental work, plus a new distrust of dentists.

What do you think of the situation? Would you be furious if you found your child strapped into the dental chair without your permission? Comment and let us know!

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