Wake County

Raleigh dentist accused of improperly sedating children

A Wake County dentist is accused of improperly and routinely putting children into deep sedation, beyond his training, according to the N.C. Board of Dental Examiners.

The dental board on Tuesday suspended Robert W. Eisberg II’s sedation permit, barring him from using the “conscious sedation” drugs that have become increasingly popular in recent years.

Eisberg has owned Atlantic Family Dental in Raleigh since 2008, and opened a Garner branch in 2012, according to the practice’s website.

Kenneth Jones, an attorney for Eisberg, described the board’s action as “unilateral” and a “complete surprise,” saying by email that Eisberg is aware of no patient complaints against him.

The dental board reports that it has seen evidence that Eisberg “is routinely placing children in the plane of deep sedation and/or general anesthesia when he is not trained for, nor does he hold a permit for this level of sedation.”

That deep plane of sedation brings risks, according to the dental board.

The report contained no further details, but deemed Eisberg’s continued use of moderate pediatric sedation to be a threat to public health. He will be allowed to use nitrous oxide and local anesthesia.

Eisberg deferred comment to his attorney. Jones wrote by email that the board hadn’t alleged that any patient was injured.

“Patient safety is extremely important to Dr. Eisberg, and we are confident that he has appropriately followed all sedation protocols,” Jones wrote.

He said he could not comment further because the investigation is ongoing.

Eisberg, a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo’s School of Dental Medicine, has held a North Carolina dental license since 2006, according to the board and his practice’s website.

Four dentists, including Eisberg, work at the two locations of his practice, according to the practice’s website. None are currently permitted to practice anesthesia or sedation, according to the board.

Eisberg now may request a formal hearing before the board, but hadn’t requested one as of Wednesday afternoon, the board said.

The case marks the fourth time in two years that the dental board has taken action on allegations of the misuse of conscious sedation.

In the increasingly popular practice, dentists use drugs such as Halcion to put patients into a state where they should be awake and responsive but calm, leaving little memory of the operation afterward.

As of last year, about 13 percent of dentists in North Carolina had a sedation permit. That portion has increased over the years.

Concerns about sedation have loomed large for the dental board since a Cary woman reportedly died after an operation at now-retired dentist Toni Mascherin’s practice in October 2012.

The board suspended Mascherin’s sedation permit in June 2013, 228 days after the death, and revoked her license that October.

In that same month, a patient reportedly died after a sedated operation at Zachary Harrison’s dental practice in Williamston.

Harrison’s sedation permit was suspended two months later, and his license was suspended on Sept. 19 of this year.