Patient dies after having teeth pulled
A South Lake Tahoe dentist was arraigned Tuesday on felony charges of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of 37-year-old man.
Scott Louis Gullin was found dead in his South Shore home by a roommate on July 30, 1998. The day before his death Gullin visited Preventive Dental Care Centers in the El Dorado Center. It was his third visit. Witnesses told police Gullin was visibly sick when he came into the office. His skin was yellow with jaundice and one woman told investigators that she thought “he could die anytime.” Gullin was suffering from liver disease, police said.
Dr. Richard Carl Griswold extracted eight of Gullin’s teeth in an office procedure. Gullin was released 10 minutes after having his teeth pulled. South Lake Tahoe police investigators said Gullin then went home and slowly bled to death. Results of the forensic autopsy showed Gullin died of acute blood loss from the extractions, police said.
Gullin, a 20-year resident, was a cook at various locations in South Lake Tahoe. He had no relatives living locally at the time of his death, but is survived by a father and brother, who both live in Southern California. A criminal investigation into Gullin’s death was sparked by inquires made by the California Board of Dental Examiners. An accusation alleging Griswold exhibited gross negligence and incompetence in regard to Gullin was filed by the dental board on May 7.
The 65-year-old dentist received his license in 1963. He graduated in 1962 from Loma Linda University, located southeast of San Bernardino, Calif. According to Jeffery Wall, chief of the dental board’s enforcement program, this is the first accusation ever filed against the dentist in his 36 years of practice.
“He has never had any previous disciplinary action from the board,” Wall said.
Wall explained that an administrative law judge would hear the accusation and render a “proposed” decision. The dental board would then decide whether to adopt the judge’s decision or render its own. Wall said if Griswold is found negligent he could lose his license and be compelled to pay the costs of the board’s investigation. If convicted of the pending criminal charges, Griswold could face up to four years in prison and additional penalties from the dental board. Wall said Griswold’s license has not been suspended and a date for the board’s hearing has not been set.
A preliminary hearing on the criminal case is set for June 16 in El Dorado County Court.
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