Dentist who left girl with permanent brain damage will help pay costs of investigation

A now-retired Edmonton dentist whose four-year-old patient Amber Athwal suffered permanent brain damage while in his care will pay $330,000 to help cover the cost of the investigation into the incident.

Dr. William Mather also won’t attempt to resurrect his practice, an Alberta Dental Association and College sentencing hearing was told Wednesday.

Both sanctions were detailed in a joint sanction submission read into the record and later accepted by the sentencing panel.

In February of this year, the dental college found Mather guilty of unprofessional conduct.

In September 2016, Amber was at a dentist appointment with Mather prior to starting her first day of kindergarten.

She was given anesthesia in Mather’s office but suffered cardiac arrest after treatment.

She was rushed to hospital and immediately put on life support. The little girl spent months in hospital, and has since recovered some use of her arms and legs and some ability to speak.

Mather, who retired in October 2017 at age 68, was accused of five counts of unprofessional conduct and other administrative infractions.

The college held a six-day tribunal hearing in October and found him guilty or partially guilty on all five of the main charges.

CBC News has learned Edmonton police reviewed the college’s final report, which was released in February, and is now consulting with the Crown prosecutor to determine if Mather should be charged criminally.

Dr. William Mather (left) at a disciplinary hearing by the Alberta Dental Association and College in October 2017. (Janice Johnston/CBC)

Among the rulings from the October tribunal, it was found that Mather’s response to his patient’s cardiac arrest, including his resuscitation effort, was inadequate.

It also ruled Mather’s office did not call 911 quickly enough and did not immediately use an emergency resuscitation cart and noted that the staff was not “fully trained or prepared to prevent or deal with Amber’s medical emergency.”

The girl’s family, who were in attendance at Wednesday’s hearing, has launched a $26.5-million lawsuit against Mather.

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