Letter: Lawyer's assertions in dental death lawsuit 'ridiculous and insulting'

May 13, 2012

My heart goes out to the family of Jenny Olenick, who by all accounts was a talented and wonderful teen. The May 5 article detailing events surrounding the filing of a malpractice suit, "Lawyers question teen's health before death," got my attention for several reasons.

To imply that pre-exiting conditions, such as stress, anxiety and heart disease would have contributed to or caused her death seem far-fetched. As reported in the article the autopsy report found "no evidence of a physical process, like cardiomyopathy having occurred," according to the state's chief medical examiner. Regarding the premise of "undisclosed medical conditions," the article states that Ms. Olenick had a medical evaluation and was "cleared" for anesthesia and surgery.

In addition, anyone with common sense knows that a mother seeking top-notch care for her child would never withhold any medical information that could impact the outcome for her child. The choice by the family and Dr. Coletti to schedule the procedure where a "qualified medical anesthesiologist" would be available due to "parental concerns regarding anxiety issues" was a sound choice in my mind. How many people have had a prior experience with something as simple as a blood draw that sets them up for medical fears and anxiety? Just listen to all the commercials offering anesthesia for dental procedures. Even pediatric dentists offer "happy air" for their littlest of patients.

Worst of all, the implication that a past history of "stress and anxiety" may have "contributed to or caused death" seems to be a very faulty leap of logic in my mind. What American today does not have some stress or anxiety? Attempting to obtain personal behavioral health/counseling records sounds like an attempt to drag the good name of Ms. Olenick through the mud.

In today's world, our teens must negotiate a highly competitive academic system in addition to all the "angst" that naturally comes with being an adolescent. I imagine that any guidance counselor in any Howard County high school could readily supply a list of student names with concerns relating to stress and anxiety.

Certainly we are complex beings with our psychological and physical health woven together. But to imply that "stress and anxiety" could cause a young girl's death seems totally unfounded — a slippery slope. I would hope that we have come farther than this.

Seems to me a mistake was made (and yes, we are all humans and capable of making mistakes, even catastrophic ones) and someone needs to "man up" and admit it instead of playing these ridiculous and insulting cards.

Lisa Bellor

Ellicott City


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