FCE – Dentist – Registration suspended for professional misconduct and impairment
14 December 2021
The Health Care Complaints Commission prosecuted a complaint against dentist FCE before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘the Tribunal’). (The Tribunal has ordered that the name of the practitioner not be disclosed.)
In February 2019, FCE was practicing as a dentist in Pyrmont and Sydney CBD. The practitioner had an undertaking on her registration which required that she submit to alcohol breath testing and provide a log book of results to the Dental Council of NSW. It was alleged that FCE:
- Contravened the undertaking by failing to submit a copy of her log book for the month of February 2019, when she worked on 9 separate dates;
- Acted improperly and / or unethically by failing to respond to three requests from the Council for her logbook.
- Has an impairment, namely Alcohol Use Disorder.
On 8 December 2021, the Tribunal found the complaint proven, except for one particular which related to a day that FCE said they did not work. The Tribunal found that the conduct amounted to professional misconduct, noting and made the following observations:
- Whilst there was no evidence that FCE had harmed a patient, attending work hungover and treating two patients whilst intoxicated were ‘salient reminders of the thin line between actual harm and a tangible risk of harm’.
- In regard to compliance with an undertaking or condition enabling an impaired practitioner to practice safely: ‘The overriding requirement is for strict compliance’.
- The failure to respond to requests from the Council was at least improper as it was a departure from the Dental Board of Australia’s Code of Conduct published in March 2014.
The Tribunal suspended FSE for 6 months and imposed conditions for when FCE returns to practice, including that the practitioner : practice under supervision, undertake alcohol breath testing and random urine (‘EtG’) testing, and consult with a psychologist and a drug and alcohol specialist.
The full decision can be found here: NSW Caselaw.
For further information, contact the Executive Officer of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 02 9219 7444 or send an email to email@example.com.
The information in this media release is correct at the time of publication. Orders may change; for example, conditions may no longer apply. For current information regarding the status of a registered health practitioner, including any conditions that currently apply, please check the National Register at www.ahpra.gov.au.
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