Lawyer denies dentist's wrongdoing in patient death

Hartford - A lawyer for a suspended dentist told a state disciplinary panel Wednesday that his client did nothing wrong in connection with the death of a patient who was having 20 teeth extracted in one sitting.

The Connecticut State Dental Commission convened a hearing on whether Dr. Rashmi Patel's license should be restored, remain suspended or be revoked. The hearing is expected to be held over several days.

The panel suspended the Enfield dentist's license in April, two months after 64-year-old Judith Glan of Ellington became unresponsive during conscious anesthesia in Patel's office and died. Officials with the state Department of Public Health say another patient of Patel's also suffered a problem during conscious anesthesia in December but survived.

Patel's attorney, Michael Kogut, told the three-member commission that Patel's license never should have been suspended.

"We do not believe the department presented sufficient evidence," Kogut said. "Even as of this date, there has been no determined cause of death (for Glan)."

The commission on Wednesday denied several motions by Patel, including requests to dismiss the allegations and reinstate his license.

Department of Public Health officials say Patel violated care standards by attempting to remove numerous teeth, perform bone grafts and install implants during a single office visit despite Glan's medical history, which included heart problems. They also say Patel didn't adequately consult with Glan's doctors.

State officials say Patel didn't respond appropriately when Glan's oxygen levels dropped during the anesthesia. They also allege he improperly delegated induction of the sedation and monitoring of the patient to assistants not trained or licensed to perform such actions.

David Tilles, a lawyer for the Health Department, told the commission that Patel's license needed to be suspended in order to protect the public from what he called Patel's "dental judgments." Tilles said Patel's license should remain suspended pending the outcome of the hearing.

"Your role is to protect the public," Tilles told commissioners.

Patel, 45, of Suffield, declined to comment Wednesday. His business partner and supporter, Michael Schoerie, said Patel followed all proper procedures and state officials have developed a "lynch mob mentality" against him. He also said multiple tooth extractions in one sitting aren't unusual.

"The Department of Public Health has acted far outside the norm," Schoerie said outside the hearing.

He added, "We still don't know the cause of death ... but he is sitting here on trial."

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