16 Apr 2021
A Perth-based dental practitioner who continued practising after allowing her registration to lapse has been fined $10,000 after pleading guilty to nine charges.
The dentist’s registration lapsed in January 2019 after she failed to renew on time. She was sentenced by the Magistrates Court of Western Australia for four charges of holding herself out as a dentist and five charges of performing a restricted dental act in breach of the National Law.1 The charges were brought by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra).
Ahpra protects the public by ensuring that only registered health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified can claim to be registered. Falsely claiming to be a registered health practitioner or performing a restricted dental act without being registered is a criminal offence under the National Law.
While working at a dental clinic in the Perth area between December 2019 and March 2020, the unregistered practitioner held herself out as a dentist and performed restricted dental acts on patients. Despite knowing she was unregistered and being advised by Ahpra that she could not practise, she continued to work as a dentist. This included consulting with patients, preparing teeth for restoration, fitting restorations and performing tooth extractions.
After taking into account her personal circumstances and previous good character, Magistrate Heath made a spent conviction order, imposed a fine of $10,000 and ordered her to pay Ahpra’s legal costs of $2,500.
Magistrate Heath commented that the charges related to a period when she was aware that she was unregistered and she continued to practise, which was disappointing.
Ahpra CEO, Mr Martin Fletcher, said: ‘Patients and the public trust that their treating health practitioner is meeting their professional obligation to maintain current registration. Any practitioner who continues to practise when their registration has lapsed can expect to face the full force of the law.
Dental Board of Australia Chair, Dr Murray Thomas, said public trust in the dental profession was paramount.
‘Ensuring public safety is our core role. All registered dental practitioners must meet their professional obligations so the public can have confidence in their treating practitioner.’
1The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).