Public hearing ordered for Edmonton dentist after 4-year-old girl suffers brain injury

The Edmonton dentist who administered a general anesthetic to a four-year-old girl who suffered a permanent brain injury has been ordered to attend a hearing conducted by the Alberta Dental Association and College.

Ramandeep Athwal, father of the young girl, received an email on Wednesday informing him of the decision. The message came almost three months after his daughter. Amber, underwent a dental procedure at the downtown office of Dr. William Mather.

“I’m very heartened they took it on a serious note and are referring Dr. Mather to a hearing,” Athwal said. “I respect their process and their decision. But as we understood initially when we met reps from the Alberta dental association, we (should) be getting a report to know what they got in the investigation.”

The dental association started an investigation immediately after Amber’s Sept. 7 visit to Mather’s dental office. The girl stopped breathing at some point during the visit and was rushed to the Stollery Children’s Hospital. She has not regained consciousness and is now living at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.

Tribunal process expected to take months

The findings of the investigation were forwarded to the Alberta Dental Association and College’s complaints director, who is responsible for making a decision on whether to refer a complaint to a hearing tribunal.

“The tribunal is compromised of three dentists and a member of the public who will ultimately decide if a dentist is guilty or not guilty of unprofessional conduct,” the dental association and college said in a news release.

While Athwal said he is “pleased” with the news of a hearing, he is still anxious to find out what happened to his daughter — a process he expects could take months. He is waiting for a call from the the dental association and college to set a hearing date.

It is unclear exactly who may be called to provide evidence at the hearing, or if the full findings of the investigative report will be presented. The hearing is public.

“The hearing tribunal receives information from the complainant and the dentist and others. There may be experts involved who explain why or why not the conduct is acceptable or unacceptable,” the release said.

“I was hoping to see all of their investigation’s findings, what they found,” Athwal said. “Why did they refer Dr. Mather to a hearing? If they found anything weird. (If) that’s why they referred Dr. Mather to a hearing, we want to know that.”

Athwal said last week he felt continually stone-walled by the Alberta Dental Association and College. Again on Wednesday, he urged the public to contact the organization to demand answers about what happened to his daughter.

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