Dental anesthesia mishap leaves woman with severe brain damage


A husband claims in a recent court filing that his 53-year-old wife has severe brain damage and requires around-the-clock care after an anesthesia mistake prior to unneeded dental surgery, according to a story published on January 14 in the San Antonio Express-News.

Maria Lugo -- who now lives in a neurological rehabilitation facility in Florida,  where she receives mechanical ventilation, artificial feeding, and hydration -- was given too much fentanyl during anesthesia administration prior to a dental procedure in 2022 at a Texas dental clinic. Due to the mishap, the surgery to extract an alleged cavitation and an asymptomatic root canal-treated tooth never occurred, but her husband, Luis Espana, claimed it was an “unnecessary” procedure.

Espana has filed a malpractice suit in the Texas District Court in San Antonio against dentists at Nunnally, Freeman & Owens, claiming that the clinicians can produce “no evidence on accepted sound, reliable and valid scientific medical knowledge or research that the surgery was necessary.” However, the dentists contend that the treatment plan is with within dentistry’s accepted standards of care, according to the story.

Lugo learned about Drs. Stuart Nunnally and Lane Freeman, the dentists who were going to perform her dental surgery, from Dr. Ludwig Johnson, a social media influencer from her native Venezuela. Based on Johnson’s videos on Instagram and YouTube, Lugo was convinced that her depression, lack of energy, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart and thyroid issues were probably due to her root canal-treated tooth and cavitations, according to the story.

Nunnally, Freeman, and their other partner, Dr. Candace Owens, are known for appearing in the  2018 documentary “Root Cause,” which claims root canals cause serious illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and chronic illnesses. It was removed from streaming platforms in the spring of 2019 following backlash from organized dentistry, including the ADA and the American Association of Endodontists.

In response to Espana’s lawsuit, the dentists claim that there is evidence showing an association between systemic illnesses and root canals.

Furthermore, Espana claimed that the dentists never met his wife prior to the surgery and failed to adequately explain possible risks. Furthermore, Dr. Jerry Teague, the anesthesiologist who administered her anesthesia, went missing the day before her scheduled procedure. Teague was found less than an hour after he was reported missing. Teague's wife said Teague left because of “cognitive issues” from his cancer diagnosis, according to the story.

Recently, Espana settled a lawsuit for an undisclosed amount with Teague's estate. Teague died from pancreatic cancer two weeks after his wife’s incident, according to the story.

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