Charges dropped against dentist in patient's death

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) - Prosecutors have dropped charges against a South Lake Tahoe dentist accused of causing a patient's death in July 1998.

But Carl Griswold could still lose his license if a judge recommends the State Board of Dental Examiners pull it.

''I think justice has been done,'' Griswold lawyer William Routsis told the Tahoe Daily Tribune. ''This was a fine doctor who never should have been charged with a crime, period.''

Griswold, 65, was charged with involuntary manslaughter after extracting eight teeth from Scott Gullin, an alcoholic who suffered from cirrhosis of the liver, congestive heart failure and hypertension.

When he left the office 10 minutes after the procedure, blood was on Gullin's shirt and still oozing from his mouth. He died the following day at his home.

Pathologist Curtis Rollins originally blamed the death on bleeding caused by the extractions, but changed his mind after seeing pictures of the room where Gullin died.

He testified at a recent dental board hearing that while the extractions contributed to Gullin's death, the primary cause was a gastrointestinal hemorrhage related to Gullin's alcohol abuse.

The El Dorado County District Attorney's Office dropped the charges after the pathologist's reversal.

''Based on these new and highly significant developments, the district attorney's office has concluded that further prosecution of the case at this time would not be in the interests of justice,'' Deputy District Attorney Peter O'Hara said.

A judge is reviewing testimony given during the hearing and will make a punishment recommendation to the dental board.

Deputy Attorney General Joel Primes, who's representing the state in its effort to sanction Griswold, said he's confident the board will take action despite the changes to the autopsy report.


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