Dentist surrenders after being indicted in 2016 case of injured child

A Houston dentist charged in an incident last year that left a 4-year-old girl with brain damage has turned herself in to authorities.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office released this statement on Monday:

A Harris County grand jury today indicted Houston dentist Dr. Bethaniel Jefferson DDS., for intentionally and knowingly by omission cause serious bodily injury to a child, by failing to seek and provide adequate medical attention.

Charges stem from a yearlong investigation after a 4-year-old child suffered Hypoxia in January 2016, which led to irreversible brain damage.

According to court documents on the morning of January 7, 2016, the child was administered sedatives at the dentist’s office, Diamond Dental, at 8:30 A.M. She suffered a seizure around 11:30 A.M., and her body’s oxygen and temperature levels dropped between 50 and 80% of normal, no call for medical assistance was made for over four critical hours.

“Ms. Jefferson chose to do everything other than provide the care the victim needed,” said Stan Clark Assistant Attorney General, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and Special Prosecutor-Harris County D.A. “As a result, the victim has suffered permanent brain damage and will never lead a normal life.”

Prior to the 2016 incident, Jefferson had been reprimanded by the Texas Dental Board in 2012 and 2005. In November 2016 the Texas Dental Board revoked Dr. Jefferson’s license.

“This indictment should send a message to the medical community that they will be held accountable for abandoning their patients in times of crisis. While accidents in the health care industry occur more than everyone would prefer, practitioners must react appropriately and contact higher level medical care providers when they realize their patient is distressed beyond their capabilities,” said Clark. “Intentionally allowing a patient to wither away for hours after suffering from a seizure and severely depressed oxygen levels is a criminal dereliction of duty owed to the patient.”