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Teen Dies After Root Canal

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Christopher Schutzius (CBS)

Christopher Schutzius (CBS)

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Updated 2/11/2011 at 5:15 p.m.

BLUE ISLAND, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) – A woman is raising questions about her foster son’s death after he had oral surgery in a Blue Island dentist’s office.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Laura Serna said her 17-year-old foster son, Christopher Schutzius, lost a filling while eating a piece of a caramel late last month.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Bernie Tafoya reports


He went to Dental Dreams, 12200 Western Ave., Blue Island, on Feb. 1 to have the filling replaced and wound up having root canal surgery.

The Blue Island teen began feeling sick Saturday and stayed home from school Monday. On Tuesday night, his condition worsened with a 107 fever and he was rushed to the hospital.

At 11:05 a.m. Wednesday, Schutzius died at MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island, police said. The cause of death was sepsis, a toxic infection he contracted after root canal surgery, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

Serna has questions regarding his death.

“All they had to do was replace a filling. Why do a root canal?” she said, adding that Schutzius was not given a prescription for a painkiller or an antibiotic.

 WBBM Newsradio 780 has been told several dentists work at Dental Dreams. Dental Dreams released a statement that said, in part: “We were shocked to hear this news and express our deepest condolences to the family.  We are conducting a thorough review of his treatment and will provide further details as they become available to us.”

Schutzius started feeling ill Saturday, “but his sister was sick, too, so we thought it was the flu,” Serna said.

He stayed overnight Saturday with his natural mother, Barbara Schutzius, in Alsip and returned to the Serna home Sunday night. On Monday, while watching TV with Serna, Schutzius said his body ached and his throat hurt, according to Serna.

She said he slept all day on the couch Tuesday and became more ill that night, leading her to call 911.

A senior at Eisenhower High School, Schutzius would have been 18 in April and would have graduated in May. Eisenhower Principal Gary Rauch said two dozen students have sought grief counseling over Schutzius’ death.

“He was a wonderful kid,” his foster brother, Richard Garcia, told CBS 2′s Suzanne Le Mignot. “It’s hard to believe he’s not with us anymore.”

A root canal specialist who spoke to CBS 2 off camera says life-threatening sepsis after a root canal is extremely rare and that root canals remove infection and save teeth.

A spokesperson for the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation says when a patient dies or has an adverse outcome from treatment, the agency opens an investigation.

The SouthtownStar contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

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