Don't Put That Bone In My Mouth!

That’s what she said. Seriously. And now a suit over a dental graft has gone all the way to the State Supreme Court.

A few years ago, Dr. Betsy Mosquera-Lacy, a periodontist employed by Bright Now! Dental of Pierce County, performed a dental bone graft on a patient named Mystie Michael, using part of a cow bone. Michael had specifically requested that no cow bone be used, and ended up suing Bright Now! and Mosquera-Lacy for Consumer Protection Act violations in 2004--a suit that went all the way to the State Supreme Court. On Feb. 5, Justice Richard Sanders issued the court's decision, which read in part: "When Michael asked [prior to the procedure] if the bone was a human bone, Dr. Mosquera-Lacy told her it was a cow bone. Michael told Dr. Mosquera-Lacy that she had already requested that human bone be used because she could not fathom the thought of having animal parts in her body. Dr. Mosquera-Lacy told Michael she had a human bone in the back [of the dental office] she would use and went to retrieve it...During the procedure, Dr. Mosquera-Lacy ran out of human bone and used some cow bone to finish the bone grafting." Mosquera-Lacy later admitted to using "a little sprinkle" of cow bone during the procedure. (Michael's suit alleges the doctor "implanted" a cow bone in her mouth.) Michael ended up suing in part because she became ill afterward from a drug she had been administered, and was rushed to a hospital emergency room by paramedics. (Michael was not charged for the graft, and was reimbursed for her trip to the ER.) A lower court tossed the case and an appeals court reinstated it, but the high court ultimately threw it out again, deciding it was too isolated an incident to qualify as aconsumer-protection violation. The incident has left Michael with legal fees—and that cow part still in her mouth. One upside: Bovine boning is not epidemic. Writes Justice Sanders: "There is no likelihood or any real or substantial potential that other people will be injured in the same way Michael was injured."

 
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