The Singapore Dental Council (SDC) has served a dentist in Singapore with a suspension and SGD50,000 fine. This came after he failed to supervise two Australian-trained dentists for several months under his charge.

Doctor in trouble with SDC once again

This case of misconduct is Dr Sng Wee Hock’s third case in four years and he is currently serving a suspension for his second offence, said the SDC in a press release recently.

On 28 June, a disciplinary inquiry was held against Dr Sng, Dr Jun Soo Lee and Dr Park Seunghyun. The latter two foreign-trained dentists were still conditionally registered – i.e. they had to work in the same clinic as their supervisor. Dr Sng, on the other hand, was approved by the SDC to supervise them, as he was a fully registered dentist.

In all fairness, the SDC also suspended Dr Lee and Dr Park for three months each, and slapped them with a SGD8,000 and SGD2,000 fine, respectively. It has been reported that all three dentists worked at WH Dental Surgeons, with three clinics under their chain.

Dr Sng has permitted both the dentists to work independently at other branches. It was revealed that Dr Lee saw patients – unsupervised – for a period of seven months and 100 clinic sessions from October 2014 to May 2015; while Dr Park saw patients for roughly three weeks and nine clinic sessions from April 2015 to May 2015.

Dr Sng’s prior two convictions were for professional misconduct. In 2013, he was fined SGD15,000 and faulted for neglecting to adequately inform a patient about claimable costs under Medisave. Just last year, he was fined SGD40,000 and suspended for 15 months for allocating dental procedures to unqualified individuals.

As for this case, the SDC cited Dr Sng’s lack of supervision as “driven by profits”. Thus, due to this and prior convictions, the council decided to hand him the maximum fine of SGD50,000 and a 15-month suspension for failing to supervise Dr Lee and another four months for failing to supervise Dr Park. The latest suspension is set to run after his current suspension period is completed.

The SDC expressed hope that this punishment will send a “strong message… to registered dentists that such conduct will not be tolerated”. To add salt to the wound, Dr Sng was later ordered to pay 90% of the legal fees. All three dentists are said to have 30 days to appeal against the sentence to the High Court.

SDC making rules and regulations clear to dentists in view of complaints

Dental professional watchdog, SDC, said it had issued “numerous circulars” to the industry regarding dentists’ supervision since 2014. Since 15 February this year, SDC has required all dentists under conditional registration to have two supervising dentists “to ensure that dentists under conditional registration are being supervised at all times”.

They announced this change “in view of the increasing number of complaints received and non-compliance relating to the supervision of dentists under conditional registration”.

Majority of the dentists working in Singapore under conditional registration are graduates from an approved foreign university. They are normally required to work supervised for two years prior to applying for a full registration.

Based on SDC's 2015 annual report, there were 297 conditionally registered dentists here – making up roughly 15% of all dentists in the country.

It was noted that six out of the 84 complaints received by SDC in 2015 were about oral health therapists, conditional dentists and supervisors. MIMS

Read more:
NDCS issues apology for using 72 sets of dental instruments that were not fully sterilised
In conversation: Dr Emmanuel Taylor on dental implants and how they improve quality of life in older patients
Tooth loss may be associated with other health problems

Sources:
http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/dentist-fined-suspended-third-case-misconduct
http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/watchdog-takes-steps-to-ensure-proper-supervision?login=true&paywall-error-type=concurrentLimitExceeded
http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/dentist-suspended-for-15-months-fined-50000-in-third-case-of-misconduct?login=true&paywall-error-type=concurrentLimitExceeded
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/dentist-fined-s-50-000-suspended-for-failing-to-supervise-two-9225998