A Widow’s Mission to Change North Carolina Dental Sedation Rules

When Shital Patel accompanied her husband Henry to a dental appointment in Leland on July 30, 2020, she was told it would not be long before he returned to the lobby of Mark Austin’s oral surgery practice.

Hemant “Henry” Patel, a cardiologist with ties to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center, had gone to Austin Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery for a tooth implant procedure.

“They told me, it’s going to be 20 minutes ma’am, he’ll be in and out, no problem,” Patel recounted to the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners at a meeting in February. “Twenty, thirty minutes go by, I ask, ‘Hey, can you update me?’ They said, ‘Oh we got a late start,’ which I completely understand being married to a physician. Wait another 15, 20, 30 minutes, and I ask again. They say, ‘We already told you, we got a late start.’”

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