CHARLOTTE — Members of the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners are weighing proposed changes to rules surrounding anesthesia during dental procedures.
n a public hearing Thursday, the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners heard arguments on both sides of the amendment that would require dentists to have a person licensed in anesthesia alongside them during procedures. The board stated that there have been six deaths following complications related to anesthesia in dental offices since 2014.
One of those deaths was Dr. Henry Patel, a well-known cardiologist in Wilmington. He died unexpectedly following complications from anesthesia he received during a dental procedure in 2020. He was 53 years old.
Dr. Patel’s widow, Shita Patel, spoke during the meeting to advocate on behalf of the change.
“Even though my husband was a physician, he never once considered, ‘I better ask about anesthesia when I go to my dentist,’” Patel explained. “I never expected to walk out of there being a widow at age 47. Medical doctors cannot do a procedure and give sedation at the same time, even in a hospital setting where they have every single thing available to them. However, it’s all right to do it in a dental setting?”