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Originally published Friday, July 17, 2009 at 3:57 PM

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Dentist sued; tools fell into man's throat

A Winter Park, Fla., dentist who twice dropped tools down the throat of an elderly patient — a 90-year-old man who died after the...

The Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, Fla. — A Winter Park, Fla., dentist who twice dropped tools down the throat of an elderly patient — a 90-year-old man who died after the second incident — is being sued for negligence.

Relatives of Charles K. Gaal Jr. recently filed the suit in Orange County Circuit Court against Dr. Wesley Meyers of Aloma Park Dental.

They accuse Meyers of failing to take precautions to guard against dropping and losing his dental tools down Gaal's throat and failing to handle his tools properly during the second incident, which occurred May 1, 2007.

On Oct. 4, 2006, while he was performing work on Gaal, Meyers dropped an "implant screwdriver tool" down the patient's throat.

Gaal swallowed the tool and two days later, he underwent a colonoscopy. The tool was removed from his intestines, the suit said.

On May 1, 2007, Gaal visited Meyers because he had a sore mouth. Meyers wanted to remove a "ball" attachment on an implant.

It was during that procedure that Meyers dropped a "mini-wrench" into Gaal's throat, which the patient swallowed. Also, Meyers lost a "ball attachment," which he presumed Gaal also swallowed, the lawsuit said.

Gaal underwent multiple medical procedures. The tool was spotted in his lung.

His chest cavity was cracked open, part of his left lung was removed and the tool was found. The ball was never recovered.

Gaal never fully recovered and was in "grave medical condition," the lawsuit said. He suffered a "cardiac event" on June 13, 2007, which required resuscitation. On June 19, 2007, he died.

In June 2008, the state fined Meyers $17,000. In a settlement, officials found Meyers negligent for dropping the tools in Gaal's unprotected throat in October 2006 and May 2007.

Meyers did not return a telephone message or e-mail.

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(c) 2009, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).

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Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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