Dentist faces potential loss of licence in medical negligence battle

Date: Sep 12, 2018

Medical negligence isn't just confined to an operating table. It can occur in a number of medical institutions, including the dentist's chair.

Here we dissect a recent case brought before the NSW District Court.

Background of the case

The case centered around a dentist (the subject) who was working in the Broadmeadow region. After practising for 10 years, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA) received a notification alleging that, in November 2015, the subject inappropriately prescribed lorazepam to a two-year old patient. As a result, the child was later admitted to the emergency department showing a reaction reminiscent to an overdose.

However it appeared this was not a one-off occurrence. The notification also showed that two other children had encountered issues when seen by the subject.

The hearing

On 21 December 2015, the Dental Council of Australia held a hearing in which the subject gave evidence as to why he administered the drug. The Council found that the subject failed to act in compliance as a registered dental practitioner and continued to pose a risk to the health and safety of the public.

The Tribunal records also showed that the subject was appointed a supervisor for two years, with the two to meet face-to-face on a monthly basis. However, the subject stated that the majority of these meetings were by telephone, rather than face-to-face. During the hearing, the subject accepted it was wrong to claim the meetings were face-to-face.

In July 2018, the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) sought leave to add further complaints to the application, including his failing to meet with the supervisor face-to-face. After allowing the amended application, the subject admitted to the allegations and accepted he was guilty of professional misconduct under section 139E of the National Law. 

However, the Tribunal acknowledged that the amended application raised issues for procedural fairness, and granted the subject with reasonable opportunity to respond to the changes. The matter is listed for hearing as to what steps need to be taken regarding the subject's right to practise and administer medication. This is due to take place on 15 October 2018, giving the subject adequate time to supply evidence in his defence.

At Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers, we understand exactly what is needed to make a medical negligence claim successful. If you feel that you have been the victim of any form of medical negligence, get in touch with the team today to see what we can do for you.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.