A general dentist has been prohibited from providing orthodontic services for two years, suspended for three months and fined SGD15,000, due to a professional misconduct, which left his patient worse off than before.

According to the Singapore Dental Council (SDC), Dr Simon Jude Chua Chew Kiat would also bear the costs and expenses of the disciplinary hearing, and those incidental to it. His three-month suspension will take effect from 21 October.

The patient has consulted Dr Chua, with a wish to straighten his crooked teeth. The dentist then recommended the patient three treatment option plans. However, he had carried out the preferred orthodontic treatment plan without the appropriate knowledge or skill.

Resulting from treatments for over one-year period, the patient is now required to extract an affected tooth, and a few other teeth. In addition, the patient may even require to undergo a jaw surgery.

Initially only wished to straighten his crooked teeth, the patient might now be required to undergo teeth extraction, a possible jaw surgery – and might even face a greater protrusion in his upper teeth.
Initially only wished to straighten his crooked teeth, the patient might now be required to undergo teeth extraction, a possible jaw surgery – and might even face a greater protrusion in his upper teeth.

SDC disciplinary committee: “obvious lack of expertise”

The treatment plan chosen by the patient should have never been offered at the first place, remarked SDC’s disciplinary committee, due to its “high risk of gum recession”. Additionally, the treatment could cause a greater protrusion in the patient’s upper teeth.

Dr Chua admitted that the procedure provided was his first attempt. (He was a deputy head of Ang Mo Kio Dental Clinic, part of the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, before he left to practise at Advanced Dental Surgery, Tampines, in 2012.)

In Dr Chua’s defence, his lawyers argued that the harm caused to the patient "was limited and that it was capable of being rectified". However, the committee disproved the statement, commenting that he should have offered his patient to seek “another dentist with the necessary expertise”.

"This is necessary since the tooth was moved out of the bone. Furthermore, it is now necessary to remove a few other teeth to provide a reasonable treatment outcome. There is also a possibility that the patient may require jaw surgery,” echoed the dental council.

The SDC said the penalty should be heavy enough “to deter like-minded persons” among healthcare professionals who carry out treatment beyond their competencies.
The SDC said the penalty should be heavy enough “to deter like-minded persons” among healthcare professionals who carry out treatment beyond their competencies.

The disciplinary committee further highlighted that there was an “obvious lack of expertise” in this case – as Dr Chua should have known, “or ought to have known” that he did not have the relevant skill to recommend and carry out the treatment. This was a complex case better handled by an orthodontic specialist, despite he had previously taken courses in orthodontic treatments.

Heavy penalty to deter like-minded healthcare professionals, warns SDC

SDC’s disciplinary committee highlighted that the penalty should be heavy enough "to deter like-minded persons (healthcare professionals)", like Dr Chua, from carrying out treatment beyond their ability. A fine was also appropriate, as Dr Chua had gained financially from the treatment plan provided to the patient.

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

Read more:

Medical council suspends license of unethical cosmetic surgeon
SDC penalises Singaporean dentist in third case of misconduct
Singapore: SMC calls for enhanced guidelines in disciplinary action against errant doctors
Cancer specialist Dr Ang Peng Tiam of Parkway Cancer Centre fined by SMC

Sources:
http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/dentist-suspended-over-treatment-that-left-patient-worse-off?login=true
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/dentist-in-tampines-fined-s-15-000-suspended-for-professional-9323716
http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/dentist-suspended-and-fined-for-treatment-that-left-patient-worse-off-than-before?login=true