13 Mar 2020
Two people who carried out invasive dental treatment on a person and falsely claimed to be dentists have been convicted in a Sydney court.
Mr Majid Rahebi and Ms Shirin Ramezani Kharavani were prosecuted by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) for offences against the National Law1. Neither has ever held registration as a dentist.
The charges related to events in October 2018 when Ms Kharavani represented that she and Mr Rahebi were dentists to a patient who attended a dental clinic in Sydney for treatment. Mr Rahebi and Ms Kharavani then drilled out a filling in the patient’s tooth and applied a temporary filling. An anaesthetic was also administered. The treatment left the patient with severe damage to her tooth. Mr Rahebi also presented himself as a dentist to the same patient on a later date.
Magistrate Baptie found Mr Rahebi guilty of one charge of unlawfully carrying out a restricted dental act and one charge of falsely representing he was a dentist. Mr Rahebi was found not guilty of a second charge of falsely representing himself as a dentist. Ms Kharavani was found guilty of one charge of unlawfully carrying out a restricted dental act, one charge of falsely representing she was a dentist and one charge of falsely representing that Mr Rahebi was a dentist.
The Magistrate convicted Mr Rahebi and imposed the maximum available fine of $30,000 for the restricted dental act. She commented that if she was able to send him to jail for the offence, she would ’not hesitate for a fraction of a second’ and would have imposed the maximum term available. Mr Rahebi was also fined $8,000 for the charge of falsely representing he was a dentist.
The Magistrate convicted Ms Kharavani of all charges and imposed a fine of $20,000 for the restricted dental act and $2,500 for each of the charges of falsely representing she and Mr Rahebi were dentists (total fine of $25,000).
The defendants were ordered to pay $6,850 in compensation to the patient to cover the cost of reparative dental treatment. The Magistrate commented that the defendants had acted with complete disregard for the patient and had visited significant pain on her.
On hearing the magistrate’s orders, the patient said she was relieved to know that Mr Rahebi and Ms Kharavani would be deterred from causing further harm in the community.
‘These people are ruining the (dental) industry and it affects people’s lives. My self-esteem is non-existent. I look forward to fixing my teeth with a proper dentist and moving forward with my life,’ she said.
The defendants were also ordered to pay $9,000 each in legal costs to Ahpra.
‘This outcome is another example of Ahpra putting public safety first. Unlawfully carrying out restricted dental acts is a gross violation of the public’s trust and we will not hesitate to prosecute such individuals,’ Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said.
Dental Board of Australia Chair, Dr Murray Thomas said, ‘We welcome the result. We hope such outcomes act as a deterrent to anyone considering such behaviour. The public can make sure the dentist they are seeing is properly registered by checking the national register of practitioners.’
The court noted that there was a significant need for general deterrence in this matter and that the regulation of registered health practitioners, such as medical and dental practitioners, is paramount to the integrity of the health system and the safety of consumers.
This is the second time Ahpra has prosecuted Mr Rahebi for offences against the National Law. In October 2018, before the events leading to the current charges, Mr Rahebi pleaded guilty to 44 counts of falsely representing he was a dentist and 31 counts of carrying out a restricted dental act, including significant invasive procedures such as root canal treatments and tooth extractions. He was subsequently fined a total of $30,000 in relation to those offences. His company MJ Dental Care Pty Ltd was also convicted of charges in relation to holding Mr Rahebi out as a dentist, and fined $11,250.
1 Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).
In February 2019, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Qld) was passed by the Queensland Parliament.
The amendments included increased penalties and introduced an imprisonment term of up to three years for some offences against the National Law. The penalties will apply to offences committed after 1 July 2019.
The introduction of an imprisonment term means that these offences will automatically become indictable offences in all states and territories (except Western Australia).