Dentist suspended for not obtaining 'vulnerable' patients' informed consent

16 Jul 2020

A tribunal in Victoria has suspended a dentist’s registration after finding she engaged in professional misconduct regarding her examination and treatment of five patients with intellectual disabilities.

All five patients were unable to effectively communicate and did not have capacity to provide consent or make decisions about their dental treatment.

Among the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s findings was that Dr Maria Trijo, who did not hold specialist registration in special needs dentistry, failed to obtain informed consent from the guardians or responsible persons for the patients.

The tribunal also found that Dr Trijo:

  • provided substandard treatment and care and/or performed examinations and/or treatments that were outside the scope of her knowledge, skills or expertise
  • failed to provide adequate follow-up care
  • inappropriately charged for the examinations and treatment, and
  • failed to maintain adequate clinical records to ensure continuity in ongoing dental care.

The tribunal determined that Dr Trijo:

  • be reprimanded
  • have her registration suspended for three months, and
  • have education conditions imposed on her registration relating to informed consent.

It noted that Dr Trijo’s registration had been subject to restrictions since the Dental Board of Australia took immediate action in October 2017 in respect of her treatment of the five patients.

In reaching its findings, the tribunal had regard to the nature and seriousness of the misconduct and stated that it ‘is made even more serious by the vulnerability of the patients.'

The tribunal observed that, ‘the patients were denied the chance to have decisions made in their best interests by a person who was able to understand and weigh information about risks and anticipated benefits.'

The tribunal’s full decision and reasons are available on the Austlii website

 
 
 
Page reviewed 16/07/2020