Dentist who performed ‘disastrous’ procedure reprimanded for professional misconduct

21 Dec 2018

A registered dentist in Victoria has been reprimanded by a tribunal after being found to have engaged in professional misconduct.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) heard that in September 2015 the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) received a notification from a patient who had undergone dental implant surgery performed by Dr Vinoth Arumugam.

On 1 March 2016, the Dental Board of Australia’s (the Board) took immediate action by accepting an undertaking from the dental practitioner to not provide surgical implant treatment until he was approved to do so by the Board. After it had completed its investigation the Board referred the matter to the tribunal on 9 November 2016.

Then in May 2017, the practitioner admitted to the Board that:

  • his treatment plan was deficient in that he did not fully appreciate the complexities of the case, and
  • the outcome of the surgery was not satisfactory, and the implants were not positioned correctly.

The tribunal heard that the patient complained of extreme discomfort because of the procedure, which involved Dr Arumugam removing all the patients existing natural teeth and placing dental implants in anticipation of full replacement dentures.

The tribunal heard that Dr Arumugam expected the procedure to take four hours but in the end it took about seven hours. The patient returned on numerous occasions to attempt to have Dr Arumugam fill the replacement dentures, however, the patient was too swollen from the procedure, preventing the dentures from being placed. The patient ultimately sought help from a specialist oral and maxillofacial surgeon and needed a further three corrective surgical procedures over the course of the next 13 months.

The hearing found in favour of the Board’s allegations that had been referred to the tribunal of professional misconduct under the National Law1. The tribunal described the procedure as ‘disastrous’ and that Dr Arumugam was not properly qualified through training or experience to perform such a complex procedure.

The tribunal reprimanded the dental practitioner ‘in light of the array of significant and alarming shortcomings with the procedure,’ and required Dr Arumugam to complete a graduate diploma level course covering implant dentistry, and any other education required by the Board.

Once he has completed the further training, Dr Arumugam will need to be supervised by a more qualified and experienced dental practitioner for at least 12 months when performing dental implant surgery and have a limit of three dental implants per patient.

Chair of the Board Dr Murray Thomas said, ‘the tribunal’s decision should be a reminder to all dental practitioners that the National Law requires practitioners to practise within their level of training, experience and competency, and that practice in more complex areas of dentistry necessitates substantial further education and training to ensure patients are not put at risk’.

Read the full decision on the tribunal’s website.

 

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1Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).

 
 
Page reviewed 21/12/2018