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Dentist charged with homicide, surgical errors over patient death

Dentistry is a field that can cause massive harm to a patient's body through invasive and sometimes painful procedures. Typically, dental assistants, surgeons and dentists in general take the time to make sure their patients are calm and in a healthy condition before starting a procedure. If a procedure looks like it isn't going to be able to be finished or the patient becomes distressed, most on the team would call it off and help the patient. That's what most people would expect to happen, and it's likely what you think should happen, too.

Unfortunately, in some cases, negligent acts can lead to serious injury and death in the dental chair. A report from Washington, D.C., discussed an Indian-American dentist who had pulled 20 teeth from a woman as she rapidly deteriorated under intravenous sedation. He now faces homicide charges.

The report claims that the dentist's assistants knew what was happening to the woman and were frantic over her dropping oxygen levels. The monitors were flashing warnings, and the procedure was not halted. The woman, age 64, died from the procedure.

It's been argued by the dentist that he had maintained the proper standard of care, but the Connecticut State Dental Commission has reported that the dentist ignored signs of the woman being in danger. Those signs included discoloration of her skin, gurgling noises and a drop in her oxygen levels. As assistants tried to warn the dentist, he allegedly ignored them and continued to work. It was only after an assistant told him that the woman was "flatlining" that 911 was called.

The problem in this case was that the commission didn't believe there should have been so many procedures taking place at once, especially since the woman was a heart patient who had recently had a heart attack. She also had suffered from strokes and was on medication that could react with the sedation.

Source: American Bazaar Online, "Indian American dentist Rashmi Patel charged with homicide after pulling 20 teeth led to death of patient" Raif Karerat, Feb. 19, 2015

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