Governor demands answers from AZ Dental Board after ABC15 report on dentist anesthesiologist

PHOENIX - Governor Doug Ducey is demanding immediate answers and action from Arizona’s Dental Board after an ABC15 investigation revealed a Valley dentist obtained a general anesthesia permit using documents multiple people and organizations said are fake and fraudulent.

In a letter sent Monday, Ducey directed the board’s executive director, Elaine Hugunin, to respond to his questions by close of business on Wednesday. 

“The information and potential risk to his patients and the public over several years is alarming,” Ducey wrote. 

RELATED: ABC15 uncovers major questions about Valley dentist's anesthesia credentials

On July 6, ABC15 revealed that Dr. Pankaj Goyal is accused of using a series of fake degrees, forged signatures, and false documents to obtain a 1301 General Anesthesia Permit from the dental board. The permit is the highest level of anesthesia certification and authorizes Goyal to administer general anesthesia or deep sedation by any means.  

Dr. Pankaj Goyal repeatedly refused to answer questions about his anesthesia credentials on the phone and in person.

In a statement, his attorney said allegations about his credentials are “meritless.” 

ABC15 also learned Elaine Hugunin directly received multiple warnings from multiple people about Goyal’s credentials beginning in 2014. But she declined to provide information and documentation about what happened with those warnings and declined to answer questions about their vetting of Goyal. 

“The Board takes its mission to protect the public very seriously,” wrote Dental Board Executive Director Elaine Hugunin in an email. “Information that relates to any Board investigation is confidential and not available to the public pursuant to (state statute).”

Hugunin declined to answer additional questions at a public board meeting.

But the Governor in his letter is requesting an answer to those same questions raised by ABC15 and seeks information about what actions the board is taking to address the situation.

“I expect a swift and serious response proportional to the potential danger inflicted on the public,” Ducey wrote.

The Governor’s urgent request for action and information stands in contrast with the response taken by the dental board’s voting members so far.

On June 1, ABC15 addressed the entire dental board about Goyal’s credentials in an effort to obtain more information.

After the meeting, board members directed staff to look into the matter. They decided if there were issues with Goyal’s credentials, the board would discuss what to do at the next board meeting – two months later.

As of July 10, 2018, Goyal’s 1301 anesthesia permit is still listed active on the Arizona Dental Board website.

Read a copy of Governor Ducey’s letter.

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dave@abc15.com. 

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