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Dentist suspended following patient death while removing 20 teeth

HARTFORD, Conn. — A dentist whose patient died after developing complications while getting 20 teeth pulled and several implants installed will not be allowed to work until after a comprehensive review of his practice.

The Connecticut State Dental Commission voted 5-0 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.

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, which may take several months. 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.

David Tilles, a lawyer for the state Department of Public Health, recommended that Patel’s license be revoked, telling the commission that Patel’s practice “was and is a threat to the safety of his patients.”

Patel declined to comment. Asked whether Patel will appeal to state court, his lawyer, Paul Knag, said he and his client will be discussing their next steps.

“Based on the evidence, these charges should have been dismissed,” Knag told the commission. “He didn’t act in a reckless manner. He acted based on what very distinguished experts thought was appropriate.”

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 after her teeth were pulled and she later died at a hospital.

The commission ruled that Patel failed 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 panel also concluded that Patel on several occasions improperly delegated sedation to assistants not trained for such a procedure.

Richard Kenny, a lawyer for Gan’s husband, Michael Gan, said his client wanted Patel’s license revoked, but believes the discipline handed down Wednesday was severe and addressed the problems.

Kenny said Michael Gan plans to sue Patel over his wife’s death.

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