EXCLUSIVE: Disabled veteran dies after having 1 tooth removed
HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nine days after getting her wisdom teeth pulled Kristen Tavares remains in a coma. Herman van Velzer continues to wait for answers after he claims he was abandoned in the middle of his eyelid surgery. Both were operated on by Big Island Dr. John D. Stover who has been the subject of four formal complaints and even a terroristic threatening charge, which was later dismissed.
Now there are shocking new allegations. We've learned a homeless disabled veteran who went in to get one tooth pulled left Dr. Stover's office in an ambulance.
We've obtained 60 pages of documents showing Curtis Wagasky, 52, died three days after a procedure from Dr. John Stover.
"He said I'll see you when you get out. And he never gets out. He flat lines right on the table. They put him under and that was it," said Sherry-Ann Kaiawe, Wagasky's friend who went with him to the dentist's office in Kona.
Wagasky was having one tooth removed in December 2012. He did have previous medical problems. According to Dr. Stover's report the patient became uncooperative and IV sedation was used. Then there were complications with his breathing.
"I watched him on the table, the whole time while they're telling me to get out and I would not because I told them he needs to come home with me please. Don't let him die please," said Kaiawe. "They made it like it was just another day and handed me his s--- and just left."
A former staff member we spoke with claims Dr. Stover knew Wagasky was not supposed to have IV sedation, but he used it anyway. The employee also claims Dr. Stover waited 15 minutes before calling for paramedics.
Wagasky was flown to Tripler Army Medical Center on Oahu where he died three days later. There was no autopsy performed and no police report.
Wagasky was homeless and didn't have family to press the issue. Now 15 months after the incident there still are no investigation results.
Arthur Roeca, Dr. Stover's attorney, says the state seized medical records and written documentation, but investigators have not interviewed Dr. Stover about the death.
The State says investigators don't always interview the doctor because it often doesn't produce useful information because they can put their own spin on the situation. The medical records are more objective.
"It was pretty unbelievable that just having the one tooth he passed," said Eric Bowen, Wagasky's family friend who was listed as the emergency contact. "I think the Doctor had to have an investigation to find out if it was too much anesthesia or what."
"I feel action should be taken towards the doctor," said Kaiawe. "I felt like he wasn't even acknowledged. I felt like it didn't even matter. We're all human regardless if you're homeless or not homeless. We should all be treated equally."
Dental professionals we spoke with on the Big Island agree, wondering how Dr. Stover is still administering anesthesia.
The state has no timeline on when it might act.
There are 11 state investigators for 130,000 licensees in 48 different professions in Hawaii. That could be one explanation why it is taking so long, but you might think this case would move to the front of the line.
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