Having a tooth pulled, a cavity filled, or even a dental cleaning can be nerve-wracking even to the most fearless and bravest of them all. A Connecticut grandmother, accompanied by her husband Michael, was ready to have 20 teeth extractions, implants, and grafts all in one visit, but the procedure ultimately led to her tragic death. The pleas of 64-year-old Judy Gan, and even those of a dental assistant, did not suffice for Dr. Rashmi Patel of Enfield Family Dental to stop the procedure or save his patient’s life when her oxygen levels became dangerously low.
"This is Jodi calling from Enfield Family Dental at 71 Hazard," the caller stated at the time of the incident, WFSB reported. "We're having a problem with one of the patients. She's under sedation and her pulse is really low." Allegations are that Patel was made repeatedly aware that Gan’s vitals kept dropping, yet the dentist wanted to keep working, as one of his assistants told investigators that "an assistant asked if we could call 911 and he said no,” according to the documents.
Gan, who was a retired librarian and mother of two, had pre-existing medical issues that Patel was aware of. She woke up after being injected with the unidentified reversal agent and asked Patel “if we could please stop the procedure and call it a day," the assistant said. Patel told his assistant to not tell her again unless it goes under 60. It was only until the situation got worse and a second plea that Patel agreed to call 911, which by then was too late, as Gan was pronounced dead at the Bay State Medical Center in Massachusetts.
Patel now faces charges for responding improperly to the woman’s oxygen levels and his attempt to extract the teeth in a single visit, the Associated Press reported. The Connecticut Department of Public Health alleges Patel’s actions led to her death and, as a penalty, the department suspended his license. Although the dentist is not currently allowed to practice, Patel continues to run two surgeries in Connecticut, one in Enfield, and one in Torrington. They remain open, and patients are being treated by other dentists on staff. The practice’s website does not mention Patel currently cannot treat patients over his recent suspension.
This isn’t the first time Patel has been discovered committing malpractice. In December, a 55-year-old man, only identified as J.S., aspirated a throat pack halting his breath and spent six days in the hospital after suffering heart and lung damage, WFSB reported.
Michael Kogut, Patel’s attorney, provided a statement: “Both episodes were unexpected and deeply concerning for Dr. Patel. His Enfield office is doing all it can to process the false allegations made by the Department of Public Health…” he told the news station.
Patel will have a hearing with the Connecticut State Dental Commission on June 18 to determine whether his license will be revoked, suspended for an additional amount of time, or reinstated and cleared of the charges in the Gan case.