Teeth pulled, patient died, dentist suspended

Dentist Rashmi Patel, center, sits with supporters at a hearing of the Connecticut State Dental Commission in Hartford, Conn., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Officials suspended Patel's license pending a comprehensive review of his practice after finding he didn't properly care for two patients, including a woman who died in February while having 20 teeth extracted at Patel's Enfield office. (AP Photo/Dave Collins)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A dentist whose patient died after developing complications while getting 20 teeth pulled will not be allowed to work during a comprehensive review of his practice.

The Connecticut State Dental Commission voted Wednesday to suspend the license of Dr. Rashmi Patel, who has offices in Enfield and Torrington, after finding that he didn't properly care for two patients, including the woman who died in February.

Patel, 45, of Suffield, denied wrongdoing in both cases. His license was temporarily suspended in April pending a final determination by the commission. His lawyer said the charges against the dentist should have been dismissed.

Under the discipline, Patel's license will be suspended until he successfully undergoes a review of his practice by the American Association of Dental Board. He also will be permanently banned from performing conscious sedation, and he will be on probation for five years after the license suspension is lifted.

The commission found that Patel improperly cared for 64-year-old Judith Gan of Ellington at his Enfield office on Feb. 17, when he was to extract 20 teeth and perform six implants. Officials said Gan's oxygen levels dropped during conscious sedation and she was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Commission members said the state Department of Public Health proved that Patel violated care standards by failing to properly respond to Gan's decreasing oxygen levels, her respiratory distress and her cardiopulmonary distress.

The commission also found that Patel should not have attempted to perform so many procedures on Gan in one office visit, given that her medical history included a heart attack six months before the visit, two strokes within the previous two years and medication that could have affected her response to the sedation.

Patel also violated care standards in December 2013 when another patient under conscious sedation to have teeth extracted inhaled a piece of gauze called a "throat pack" designed to protect him from swallowing foreign objects, the commission found. The patient began flailing, his blood pressure became high and he was rushed to a hospital, but recovered.

The commission found that Patel failed to adequately monitor the patient during the sedation and failed to extract the throat pack properly and timely, despite multiple warnings by an assistant that the pack was slipping too deep into the patient's throat.

The panel also concluded that Patel on several occasions improperly delegated induction of conscious sedation and monitoring of sedated patients to assistants not trained or licensed to perform such actions.

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