20 Jun 2023
A South Australian tribunal has found a dentist guilty of professional misconduct for falsifying medical certificates.
On 15 December 2022, the Dental Board of Australia (the Board) referred Dr Katheryn McKenna to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (tribunal) for professional misconduct. The Board alleged that Dr McKenna falsified two medical certificates so as not to attend two compulsory seminars for her postgraduate studies on the 28 May and 15 June 2020. In addition, when asked by her supervisor to produce the original certificates, Dr McKenna attempted to conceal the lie and stated she could not locate them.
Dr McKenna provided some explanation to her actions. She did explain that at the time of providing the first (false) medical certificate, she had already received formal notice of being ‘at risk’ of not progressing in the third year of her course, and on the day before she was due to make two compulsory presentations (on the 27 May 2020) she received a second formal notice of the risk of her not progressing. This resulted in her being ‘very distressed’ and she then missed the seminar the next morning. In addition, McKenna also ‘perceived’ her relationship with her supervisor had broken down and felt she was being treated unfairly. She explained that it was in this context the misconduct occurred.
In reaching its decision, the tribunal found Dr McKenna’s behaviour breached the ethical requirements of truthfulness and integrity as outlined in the code of conduct and met the threshold for professional misconduct. It also took into account of her age and length of practice, which by this stage she had been a registered dentist for roughly nine years. Dr McKenna had also previously been the subject of a formal caution in 2015.
The tribunal did recognise that Dr McKenna was ‘genuinely remorseful and motivated to avoid misconduct in the future’ but it expressed ‘concern about her ability to cope with the challenges of professional practice and life generally, and to respond appropriately when under significant stress’.
The tribunal felt a condemnation of her conduct was essential and ordered she receive two years of mentorship as a condition of her registration, with monthly sessions for the first six months, and bi-monthly sessions thereafter. Dr McKenna was also ordered to pay the costs of the Board.
Read the full decision available on AustLII.