Instead of personally performing orthodontic procedures on a patient, a dentist Dr. Sng Wee Hock, 43, delegated the tasks to his clinic assistants, who were not qualified to do so.

For breaching the ethical code and guidelines of the Singapore Dental Council (SDC), he was suspended for 15 months and fined S$40,000. On 12 January, he appealed for a lighter punishment but his bid was dismissed by the High Court and the suspension and fine was upheld.

Not his first case of professional misconduct

This was not Dr. Sng's first disciplinary inquiry for professional misconduct. In 2014, he was fined S$15,000 for misinforming a patient that the cost of her dental implant could be fully claimed from Medisave.

He consequently denied the charges but the SDC judged otherwise and said what he did amounted to professional misconduct "because the misrepresentation made was likely to have an impact on a patient's decision to undergo the treatment".

Dr. Sng was also censured and warned not to repeat the offence. He also had to pay 80% of the council's cost incurred. He currently practises under the name of WH Dental Surgeons, which has clinics in Seletar, Hougang and Punggol.

In July last year, he faced a disciplinary committee on 14 charges of delegating various orthodontic treatments to be carried out to his dental assistants. All charges involved the same patient.

He pleaded guilty to only four charges, relating to cementing of molar bands, bonding of loose brackets, placing occlusal glass ionomer cement and removal of orthodontic arch wires. The other 10 charges were taken into consideration.

SDC reminds that delegation of duties is a serious offence

The committee took Dr. Sng as an example and said it was sending a clear message to the profession that delegation of duties is a serious breach of the law governing dental practitioners when it ordered the suspension and fine.

"Orthodontic treatment not done properly by trained professionals can give rise to serious and damaging side effects. It should not be carried out by untrained and unqualified persons," said the committee to support its decision.

Dr. Sng's suspension will begin on 24 February after his lawyer S. Selvaraj requested for a grace period for Dr. Sng to settle some business matters.

Mr Chia Voon Jiet, lawyer for the SDC, did not object. MIMS

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