Dentist suspended; patient died after teeth pulled

A Connecticut dentist has lost his license to practice after one patient died and another suffered serious injuries. This is one of the harshest penalties ever given to a dentist in Connecticut, after a patient in his care died back in February.

There are about 3,500 licensed dentists practicing in the state, but only about 100 have what’s called an Anesthesia Conscious Sedation permit. It allows the dentist to use medications to address a patient’s fear or anxiety about dental work and can be used for more complex procedures. Dr. Rashmi Patel, who practices in Enfield and Torrington, has had his license revoked because a patient under this form of sedation for the removal of twenty infected teeth lost consciousness and later died.

“This is a case about failure to protect the patient, two patients, in fact,” said Attorney David Tilles of the Connecticut Department of Public Health, at the final hearing on the case Wednesday before the State Dental Commission.

The commission heard evidence that a dental assistant, seeing the patient in distress, had begged Patel to stop the procedure, then ran out and called 911. The dental commission has also concluded that Patel botched a procedure with another patient who survived and won an out-of-court settlement.

“He certainly has learned his lesson that he would never go anywhere near any type of conduct that would subject him to coming back here again,” said Attorney Paul Knag, who represented Patel before the commission.

The commission, made up of dentists from around the state, didn’t buy any of it. Patel has been permanently banned from using any form of sedation in the future, and his license to practice will remain suspended until he is retrained and reassessed, and then will be monitored for a period of five years.

The lawyer for the estate of the deceased patient says he’ll move once the results of an autopsy are in.

“We’ll have the issues raised in the autopsy evaluated by experts and see if they relate to the standard of care violations that we already have evaluated,” said Attorney Richard Kenny, the lawyer for the estate of Judith Gan. “We’d have to decide at that point whether there’ll be a civil lawsuit, yes.”

Gan lived in Connecticut but died at Bay State Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., and her family has been waiting for the Massachusetts Medical Examiner to determine an exact cause of death for 10 months.

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Walter Skinner

Walter Skinner joined the Pluto Daily in 2012 and has covered news from around the world.