Connecticut Dentist’s License Is Suspended After Elderly Woman Dies During The Extraction of 20 Teeth In One Session

220px-Dental_office-1The dental license of Dr. Rashmi Patel has been suspended in Enfield Connecticut after a horrific session with Judith Gan, 64, ended in her death. Patel reportedly extracted 20 teeth in one session and Gan became unresponsive and then died.

It is hard to imagine removing 20 some teeth in one session, even for a young person. However, the state board is also investigating allegations that Patel failed to respond appropriately when Gan’s oxygen levels dropped. She was later pronounced dead at Baystate Medical Center.

Patel has two clinics, in Enfield and Torrington, and in December a 55-year-old man “aspirated [a] throat pack” and was rushed to the hospital after he stopped breathing. He spent six days in the hospital after suffering heart and lung damage.

Even more chilling is the account given by state investigators that the patient was in obvious distress but Patel “wanted to complete the placement of implants” as “the assistant begged (Patel) to stop working, and finally ran out and called 911, but the patient had already flat-lined.”

Patel’s attorney Michael Kogut objected to the entire hearing, saying “this arbitrary action was taken against Dr. Patel before the cause of death was determined. The Department of Public Health has again acted outside its limitations.”

Obviously, the suspension of Patel’s license is only the first possible legal action. He will presumably face a major tort lawsuit for negligence and even battery. While this currently appears a civil matter, he could even face a criminal investigation if police believe that circumstances raise questions of potential manslaughter. Certainly his counsel would need to be prepared for all such eventualities in such a case.

Source: NY Daily News

57 thoughts on “Connecticut Dentist’s License Is Suspended After Elderly Woman Dies During The Extraction of 20 Teeth In One Session”

  1. Darren, that’s true. My state of Wisconsin is notoriously bad at enforcement. A Wisconsin nurse that used to work for the WI DHS as a surveyor wrote a book about the corruption in the WDHS. I’ll try to find it, forgot the title.

  2. Twenty teeth all at once sounds too much even in a hospital setting. When I was twenty-five I needed to have all of my wisdom teeth pulled. I wanted to get it over with all at once but my dentist refused. He said he had a policy of pulling only two at the same time because it wasn’t safe to pull all four unless I wanted to do it as an outpatient at the hospital. I was healthy and fit, but he still couldn’t be convinced.

  3. My general experience with dentists has been that they are more concerned with what insurance plan you have than they are with the state of your teeth when they are deciding what procedures you “need.”

    1. John – on the good side of dentists, I had to have 2 wisdom teeth pulled when I was in grad school, and like most grad students I was a pauper. So, when the surgeon was about to put me under he looked in and said, you know those other two should go, too. And I told him my situation and that I could barely afford the two I was having pulled. When I woke up he had pulled all four. No extra charge. 🙂 but twice the pain.

  4. There are more than one-million medical deaths in the US annually, so why only outrage for this case?

    Every Indian business is owned by a Patel.

  5. Where did this Dentist train ? How uninformed was the patient ? What was the anesthesia ? When was the last time the patient was seen for a heart/lungs evaluation ? I’m also curious regarding the education level of the patient ?
    With such knowledge I’ll have an opinion !!!

  6. Al, I love your non PC humor. I worked for an attorney who did med mal defense. He was hired by insurance companies to defend dental malpractice cases. I worked 2 or 3. What I remember is lawsuits often occur when a dentist goes outside their expertise and then gets in over their head. My client said many of the cases he got were the ham n’ egger, “Drill, fill and bill” dentists trying to do procedures above their pay grade like this idiot did. From the info provided, I’m certain his malpractice premiums were enormous.

  7. My dentist always operates on the wallet first. If you have a good dental policy, then watch out.

  8. What is disturbing to me is the account that the dentist 1) was pulling more teeth in one session than appears to be recommended and 2) kept working while ignoring the distress of the patient. It was an assistant who called 911, apparently on her own accord.

    I think it is reasonable to err on the side of caution and suspend his license while the investigation is underway, since there is reasonable suspicion of wrong doing. What he did sounds like elder abuse.

  9. Sixty four is not elderly and Patel can go back to running the Motel 6 that his family owns in his town.

  10. The Department of Health has no teeth in such matters, so to speak. I’ve seen rehab centers and nursing homes get a pass from the state one too many times in cases in which there was clear neglect or even abuse to patients. The lawyer will have to prove that the Department of Health overreacts which in reality, is just the opposite.

  11. It may sound macabre but I am willing to bet this guy will send the estate a bill.

  12. When I first moved to Arizona there were a lot of dentists who specialized in doing massive extractions like these. I had four wisdom teeth pulled at the same time and was pretty much a basket case. Not sure what I would do if I lost 20 in one blow, so to speak. I would probably be out for at least a week.
    On a side note, at his age he was probably about ready to retire anyway. The price of his practice may have taken a hit.

  13. I guess if the dentist is doing what dentist do then I say stay away from this dentist. I can’t claim expertise in pulling 20 teeth or not, but why was she having this many teeth pulled at one time? It may not be all that uncommon, especially when you have folks advertising one day dentures. I don’t really know.

  14. Patients have died at dental offices. My dentist lost a patient several years ago. It’s a matter of the circumstances surrounding patient deaths. I would believe the dentist in this article might have some other issues in the past and/or what happened to the patient was aggravated by the dentist’s negligence to cause the dental board to suspend his license.

    1. I realize that some patients have died during dental procedures, but the totality of the circumstances in this one seem really egregious. It will take some good lawyer to keep him out of jail.

  15. I think that the so called doctor had better hope his lawyer is better at his profession than he is at his field. It takes some gall to say that having a dead patient in the dental chair is not grounds for pulling his license, especially in multiple complaints.

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