EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A surgeon at Nassau University Medical Center is accused of trying to strangle a nurse.

Police say 44-year-old Venkatesh Sasthakonar approached the victim from behind and wrapped an elastic cord from his sweatshirt around her neck, leaving her in pain and gasping for air.

The 51-year-old nurse says they’d had an earlier disagreement.

A criminal complaint states the doctor became upset after the nurse administered medication to a patient at the incorrect time and Sasthakonar allegedly said, “I should kill you for this.”

“She was not injured in any way, she didn’t lose consciousness, he didn’t attempt to choke her at all,” his attorney Melvin Roth told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall. “He knows this nurse for 10 years, they’ve worked together, they’re friends. He denies that he even touched her skin with the drawstring that is listed in the complaint. He didn’t attempt to choke her at all, any statement he made about ‘I’ll kill you’ was said in jest.”

Sasthakonar is charged with second-degree strangulation and third-degree assault.

According to the hospital’s website, the doctor has worked there for about a decade and specializes in bariatric surgery for obese patients.

The hospital released a statement saying, “Following the alleged incident that occurred on January 22, 2018, the hospital cooperated with the Nassau County Police Department. At no time was patient safety affected. The doctor has been suspended until further notice.”