The State Dental Commission held its second day of hearings in the probe to determine whether an Enfield-based dentist should have his license re-instated after a patient died in his care.
Dr. Rashmi Patel’s license was temporarily suspended in April after the Department of Public Heath launched an investigation into the his practice. The health of two patients was reportedly compromised in separate incidents less than two months apart.
In February, 64-year old Judith Gan, of Ellington, suffered cardiac arrest and died a short time later during surgery which included extracting 20 teeth and receiving implants.
Three dental assistants testified to the three-member panel that the dentist continued operating despite several warning signs that the patient’s health was rapidly deteriorating.
“I felt her hand and it was cold,” said Heather Bosley, a dental assistant who was involved in the surgery. “After trying to wake her up I said, ‘We should call 911 now.”
A dental hygienist, Brandi Kline, spoke in detail about the circumstances surrounding a December incident in which a middle-aged man, identified only by his initials, J.S., allegedly swallowed his throat pack while under conscious sedation. A throat pack is a 4’’x4’’ gauze pad inserted in a patient’s mouth during dental work.
Attorneys for Patel deny allegations that the doctor, who also has an office in Torrington, did not respond appropriately during these incidents. In cross examination, their line of questioning appeared to be centered in the credibility of the witnesses and suggested the Department of Health may have helped craft the witness statements.
Following the hearing, Patel and his legal team left without saying much, telling reporters they will be calling several experts to the stand in the future.
The family of Judith Gan did not attend the hearing, but its attorney sat quietly in the front row.
Rick Kenny, a Hartford attorney, says the family is waiting until all the facts are laid out and an autopsy report is released before considering any civil action against the dentist.
Patel is expected to testify in his defense. It’s unclear if that will happen in the next hearing scheduled for July 23. The final conclusion by the commission is expected to take months.