Man's tooth implant lost on way to hospital after fall; Problem Solvers find out who is responsible

TULSA - Even with a paralyzed leg, 61-year-old Norris Minor had no problem getting up and down the stairs in his two-story house.

Then April 13, he tripped on a flight of steps.

"I fell here on this ceramic tile," Minor said, standing at the bottom of the stairs.

The next thing Minor remembers is waking up in the hospital. The doctor told him he had a concussion and one of his teeth fell out.

But when he got home, his tooth wasn't there.

"What happened?" He asked. "What happened to it?"

He immediately called St. John Medical Center in Tulsa. They said they would need to do an investigation.

Two months later, they told him they found no record of his tooth.

This wasn't just any tooth though. It was a nearly $3,000 permanent implant, and Minor doesn't have dental insurance to replace it.

"Then I'm saying, well wow, what am I going to do?"

So he came to the Problem Solvers in hopes of getting some answers.

We went to work to track down the missing tooth.

We called the Tulsa Fire Department first. They said they put Minor's tooth in milk and gave it to EMSA.

But EMSA says they put the tooth in a bag and sent it with Minor to the Emergency Room, standard procedure, so they aren't responsible.

We asked for a copy of EMSA's policy.

It says that any personal items and who they are delivered to need to be documented in the Patient Care Report.

But looking at Minor's PCR, there was no mention of his tooth anywhere.

When we asked EMSA why they didn't follow protocol, they said the paramedics thought it was a real tooth. That makes it an amputated body part, which they say doesn't need to be documented.

And what about St. John's protocol? Why wasn't Minor notified that his tooth was not with him?

St. John says their procedure requires staff to inform patients when they arrive that they are not responsible for any personal belongings.

But Minor was unconscious at the time, and had no idea his tooth had followed him to the hospital.

St. John says if that is the case, they inform the patient when they wake up. But Minor says even then, he was still not thinking clearly.

So here's what you need to know from Minor's experience:

  • Have a list of medical procedures you have had, and necessary items that you want taken extra care of, like glasses, dentures or earring aids.
  • Inform close friends and family of your conditions and necessary items you need in case of an emergency.
  • And once you are at the hospital make sure you know what came with you to the hospital and if you think something is missing, report it immediately.
  • Minor may never find his tooth, and no one is claiming responsibility for it.
  • But for him, this is about more than losing a tooth.
  • "It's very embarrassing for me, because I always smile, I love to smile, so I miss that."
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