Lawyer sees double jeopardy in dentist’s prosecution

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Dr. Rashmi Patel / Enfield Police

HARTFORD — The lawyer for an Enfield dentist says his client will challenge criminal prosecution related to the death of a patient.

Attorney Hubert Santos cited in Hartford Superior Court  “a substantial double jeopardy” claim because his client, Rashmi Patel, had faced proceedings before the state Dental Commission. The panel suspended his license pending a comprehensive review of his practice after finding he didn’t properly care for two patients.

The state Dental Commission permanently banned Patel from performing conscious sedation and placed him on five years of probation.

Authorities say Patel’s patient, 64-year-old Judith Gan, died last February after her oxygen levels dropped while under conscious sedation when she had 20 teeth pulled and implants installed. They said Patel failed to respond appropriately when Gan’s oxygen levels dropped and should not have planned so many procedures on her in one office visit.

Patel was charged with a misdemeanor count of criminally negligent homicide and a felony count of tampering with evidence. He denied wrongdoing and his lawyer said the charges should have been dropped.

Santos says court decisions are split on whether a regulatory proceeding can bar criminal prosecution as a violation of protections against double jeopardy.