Dentist Charged After Woman Flat-Lines in Chair, Dies

Rashmi Patel charged with criminally negligent homicide
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2015 8:45 AM CST
This photo provided by the Enfield Police Department in Connecticut shows dentist Rashmi Patel.   (AP Photo/Enfield, Connecticut. Police Department)

(Newser) – A woman who went to the dentist for a tooth extraction ended up dying after flat-lining in his chair, and now the Connecticut dentist has been charged with criminally negligent homicide in her death. Judith Gan, 64, went into Rashmi Patel's office on Feb. 17 of last year for a full-mouth extraction, during which 20 teeth would be removed and implants would be inserted. But during the procedure, Patel allegedly ignored the sedated woman's worsening condition—even though the low-oxygen alarm went off multiple times, Gan started gurgling, wheezing, and changing color, and one of Patel's assistants "begged" him to stop working on her, inspectors say. The assistant finally called 911, but by then Gan had stopped breathing and "flat-lined," according to a health inspectors' report. She was declared dead at a hospital; Patel has also been charged with evidence tampering.

Gan had health problems, including a heart attack six months prior to her death and two strokes in the two years prior, the Monitor Daily reports; she was also on medication that could have interfered with sedation. "That's of course an issue into whether she should have been sedated in the first place," the Gan family lawyer says, per Fox Connecticut. But, he adds, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy "ruled out a lot of potential problems as causes of her death. Her pre-existing things did not ... suddenly occur and cause her to die." Officials also say Patel, 45, should not have planned so many procedures at once. The Dental Commission declined to revoke his license, but it did put him on five years of probation and banned him from performing sedation, the Hartford Courant reports. He has previously been accused of failing to monitor a sedated patient who choked on gauze but survived, the AP reports, as well as other problems. (A trip to the dentist may have saved this girl's life.)

My Take on This Story
Show results without voting  |