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When Sydney Galleger was told that she needed to get her wisdom teeth removed, she decided to wait until she finished her junior year of high school. Galleger was busy with her final exams and planning out which colleges she would be applying to the next year. On June 9, 2015, a few weeks after her last exam, Galleger’s parents brought her to Dr. Paul Tompach’s office in Edina, Minnesota. The routine dental procedure began at 9 a.m., but according to a medical malpractice lawsuit, 15 or 20 minutes in everything changed.

Medical records show that Galleger’s heart rate dropped significantly sometime between 9:15 and 9:20 a.m. A few moments later she went into cardiac arrest and for a time had no pulse. Tompach immediately began performing CPR and at 9:31 a.m. his office called 911. First responders took over upon arriving at the office and revived Galleger before bringing her to the emergency room. But, unfortunately, she was deprived of oxygen for so long that she suffered from significant brain swelling and seizures.

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Attending physicians at the Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, where she was transferred, quickly operated to insert a drain to combat the swelling in her brain. But by then it was too late. Six days later, Galleger was dead. She was only 17, and according to the medical malpractice lawsuit, filed by her parents a year ago, if not for the alleged negligence of Dr. Tompach, their daughter would still be alive.

“What started out as normal day soon turned anything but normal,” wrote Sydney’s mom, Diane. “I really dislike the cliché even more now, ‘God needed another angel.’ It’s hard when that angel is yours.”

Dr. Tompach’s license to practice dentistry in Minnesota was suspended for six weeks by the state’s licensing board for incorrectly administering general anesthesia and not properly monitoring his patient. After reinstating Tompach’s license, the state restricted him from administering anesthesia. When the restrictions ended, Tompach was hired by the University of Minnesota, where he currently teaches oral procedures like extracting wisdom teeth.

After failing to come to a settlement, a trial was scheduled for May 2018. But once the trial date was set, the parties reconvened and negotiated a settlement agreed to by both sides. Tompach’s insurer will pay the Galleger family $2.06 million to end the lawsuit.

“I’m absolutely convinced that [Sydney] didn’t have to die the way she did,” said one of the attorneys representing the Galleger family. “No amount of money ever replaces a child.”

 

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