ELYRIA — Dr. Henry Mazorow, the 80-year-old dentist who is under investigation in connection with the death of 13-year-old patient Marissa Kingery, settled a wrongful death lawsuit 12 years ago when a Grafton woman also died after a dental procedure, according to court records.
Rosemary T. Johnson, who was 57, died on Oct. 21, 1997, while having six teeth removed by Mazorow, according to documents filed in Lorain County Probate Court.
Records indicate that Johnson, a retired automaker and mother of five, had a reaction to halothane, a general anesthetic, and suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia.
The lawsuit filed by her husband, Craig, on behalf of her estate, contended that Mazorow did not have a continuous EKG, which would have detected the arrhythmia, or a defibrillator, which could have saved her life.
Two expert witnesses for her family, an oral surgeon and an anesthesiologist, supported the contention that Mazorow violated certain standards of care, according to court documents. The suit was settled for $550,000, records show.
Marissa’s mother, Amber McEwen, said Friday she was shocked by the news that another patient of Mazorow’s had died. Her daughter died Monday at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland after being on life support for nearly two weeks following surgery on Dec. 21 to remove two baby teeth and uncover an impacted tooth.
The investigation by the Cuyahoga County coroner’s office is incomplete, but the tentative cause of Marissa’s death was lack of oxygen to the brain following anesthesia for dental surgery, according to spokesman Powell Caesar.
Lili C. Reitz, executive director of the Ohio State Dental Board, also said she was surprised to hear of Johnson’s death and said she was not aware of the wrongful death lawsuit. Reitz joined the dental board in 1996, two years before the lawsuit was filed.
Under the rules of the dental board, dentists whose patients die or are sent to a hospital following a procedure are required to report the incidents to the board, Reitz said. Malpractice carriers also are required to report to the board payouts of cases involving $25,000 or more.
Reitz said Friday she did not have access to all the records on Mazorow and could not say if the board was informed of Johnson’s death.
However she said there is no public record of any discipline for Mazorow. Any discipline more serious than a warning would be available as a public record, she said.
Mazorow, who has been practicing since 1956, was unavailable for comment. His attorney, Ronald Mingus, said he did not have details about the prior wrongful death lawsuit or settlement.
Mingus declined to discuss Marissa’s death, citing patient confidentiality, but he said Mazorow “has all of the proper equipment, including a defibrillator.”
It is too early to determine what happened before Marissa died, but complications from administration of anesthesia can occur within the standards of good care, Mingus said.
“Dr. Mazorow expresses his deep condolences to Marissa’s family and friends,” Mingus said.
The family of Rosemary Johnson declined comment Friday through the husband of one of her daughters.
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