Edmonton dentist under investigation after young patient sent to hospital

CBC News has learned a long-time Edmonton dentist is being investigated after 'a significant incident' at his office involving a young patient who was sent to hospital.

Dr. William Mather's privilege to sedate patients suspended

Dentists often use a general anaesthetic when treating young children. (CBC)

An Edmonton dentist who has been in practice for more than 40 years is now being investigated by the Alberta Dental Association and College.

Dr. William Mather treated a little girl in his downtown office on Wednesday, Sept. 7. He administered a general anesthetic for the unspecified procedure, but something apparently went wrong.

In a written statement emailed to CBC News this week, Mather wrote: "This is an obviously traumatic event for the patient's family and me and my entire staff."  

While the investigation is ongoing, he felt "It would be inappropriate for me or my staff to make any further comments to the media," Mather said.

"My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the child and the family," he added.

A spokesperson for Alberta Health Services said the child's family "isn't interested in talking to the media."

CBC News has been told by sources that during the dental procedure in Mather's Scotia Place office, the sedated child was deprived of oxygen and lost consciousness. More than three weeks later, she remains at the Stollery Children's Hospital's intensive care unit.

Those details have not been confirmed on the record by Alberta Health Services or the Alberta Dental Association and College.

"We cannot provide any information regarding the patient involved," dental association CEO and registrar Dr. Randall Croutze said. "Until all the information is known, certainly we cannot comment on the incident itself."  

But Croutze called the incident "significant."  

'We are taking this very seriously'

Croutze said the dentist reported that an "incident ... with a dental patient from the administration of a general anaesthetic" had occurred.

The registrar said his office immediately launched an investigation.

"We are taking this very seriously," he said.  "I know that myself and the staff associated with this have been coming in early every morning. And certainly we are staying late on it.

"It is our most important task at this time to understand the events. We are contacting all of the individuals involved. It is a very important matter for us to resolve."

Dr. William Mather, dentist now under investigation spotted speaking to an employee at his downtown Edmonton dental practice last week. (Janice Johnston/CBC)

Croutze said the college will make more information public when the review is completed.

Dentist now restricted from sedating patients

Mather was accredited by the Alberta Dental Association and College to administer general anesthesia and deep sedation.

Those privileges have been suspended by the college pending the outcome of the investigation.  



Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston