Dentist suspended three months, fined $15k for treatment that left patient worse off

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A general dentist who practised beyond his ability and left the patient worse off than before treatment has been suspended for three months, fined $15,000 and prohibited from offering orthodontic services for two years. He also has to pay the cost of the disciplinary hearing.

The patient now needs to extract an affected tooth and a few other teeth and might even need jaw surgery.

The Singapore Dental Council (SDC) said in its grounds of decision released yesterday that Dr Simon Jude Chua Chew Kiat, who practises at Advanced Dental Surgery in Tampines, had offered the patient three treatment plans to choose from.

The plan the patient opted for to straighten his crooked teeth should never have been offered, said the SDC's disciplinary committee, because of its "high risk of gum recession". The plan would also result in the patient's upper teeth protruding more than before.

The charge against Dr Chua was that he knew or ought to have known that he did not possess the appropriate knowledge, skill or required knowledge and should have referred the patient to a dentist with the necessary expertise.

The committee did not agree with the dentist's lawyers, who argued that the harm to the patient "was limited and that it was capable of being rectified".

Dr Chua admitted it was the first time he had attempted the procedure. The committee said there was "obvious lack of expertise" in this case.

The committee felt the penalty should be heavy enough "to deter like-minded persons" from carrying out treatment beyond their competency. As Dr Chua had gained financially, a fine was also appropriate.

The committee said it would have suspended him for six months, if not for the delay in hearing his case.