KAMLOOPS - A dental surgeon accused of causing a patient’s severe brain injury will fight the allegations against him in two separate tribunals after announcing his plan to appeal a dental regulator's decision prior to his penalty hearing.
On July 17, Dr. Bobby Rishiraj indicated his plan to appeal the decision made by the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia. In documents released on June 23, college investigators outlined a series of failures by Rishiraj when he removed a patient’s wisdom teeth in November 2012. While under deep sedation, patient Hamu Zindoga suffered a heart attack and subsequent brain injury. The college discovered Rishiraj was not permitted to provide deep sedation to his patients and did not recognize Zindoga's distress appropriately.
“Dr. Rishiraj’s failure to adequately monitor his patients and to recognize (Zindoga's) cardiac arrest could be characterized as incompetent practice,” the report said.
Anita Wilks, a spokesperson for the college says Rishiraj's penalty hearing is delayed because of his appeal, but expects a date to be set sometime next week. The penalty could range from reprimand to removal from the registry.
Prior to the college’s decision, Zindoga and her mother Evelyn alleged medical malpractice in a notice of civil claim filed in Vancouver Supreme Court against Rishraj and his dental assistant Sara Chalmers of the Kamloops Oral Maxillofacial Surgery Centre.
Zindoga says Rishiraj represented himself as though he was approved to provide deep sedation when he wasn’t and failed to efficiently respond to her heart attack. During her resuscitation, Zindoga says an ambulance attendant “discovered a piece of gauze blocking (her) airway."
“The piece of gauze had been placed into the Plaintiff’s mouth by Dr. Rishiraj or by Ms. Chalmers. The ambulance attendant was able to remove the gauze and then successfully intubate the Plaintiff,” the claim reads.
Zindoga claims the brain injury she sustained “requires and will continue to require care, including medical care, assistance, support and rehabilitation and claims damages for all such medical and other assistance for the entirety of her life.”
Zindoga is seeking several damages, including future health care services for relief.
The patient's claim lists 26 different aspects of Rishiraj’s practice which contributed to her injury. Among them, Zindoga accuses the dentist of not following appropriate safety protocols as outlined by the college, failing to properly respond to her distress in a timely matter, failing to remove the gauze from her airway and complete a resuscitation record. Zindoga says Rishiraj failed to provide her with “sufficient information to allow her to provide an informed consent to the treatment offered, including but not limited to the risks and complications associated with deep sedation."
Rishiraj and Chalmers countered Zindoga’s civil claim on Feb. 17, 2015. In their response, the two parties admit to treating the patient and not being licensed to perform deep sedation, but deny negligence on their part. The defendants say they recognized the patient’s heart attack in a timely manner, resucitated her, checked her ventilation and pulse and performed CPR before calling 9-1-1. Rishiraj says he discovered the piece of gauze - which he says was used to control bleeding and prevent blood inhalation - in the patient’s throat before removing it with forceps.
The dental surgeon claims he showed a video outlining the procedure and risks associated with it to the patient and her mother before the surgery. Rishiraj and Chalmers say Zindoga did not advise them that she attended the emergency room for left side chest pain prior to the surgery and did not inform Rishiraj she suffered from migraines, was prone to fainting, was taking anti-depressants and sleeping pills and did not disclose she was treating a psychiatric illness.
The trial is set to begin Oct. 17, 2016.
None of the information provided in either notice of claim has been proven in court. Rishiraj continues practicing under the college regulation that he no longer use deep sedation methods. The patient claims to be living at a rehabilitation and residential support facility in Lake Country.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at email@example.com, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-2724.