Failure to maintain professional boundaries

A dentist has been reprimanded and disqualified for 12 months after a pharmacist reported him to AHPRA

In 2016, a pharmacist made a notification to AHPRA regarding the dentist’s prescription of benzodiazepines to a family member.

The Dental Board of Australia decided to investigate his conduct, and found that between 2011 and 2016, the dentist had issued a significant number of scripts for a family member.

These included up to 65 scripts for benzodiazepines; up to 69 for antibiotics; and up to 15 for a paracetamol/codeine combination.

During this time he also issued one script for benzodiapines, and six for antibiotics, in his own name.

Each script was presented to a pharmacy and filled under the PBS.

AHPRA requested that the dentist provide a copy of his treatment records in relation to the family member, but he did not do so.

When the family member was asked about the scripts for benzodiazepines, they said that they could not recall.

By the near end of 2016, the Immediate Action Committee of the Board had formed a “reasonable belief” that the doctor posed a serious risk to persons, and that it was necessary to take immediate action to protect public health or safety, a tribunal has heard.

The Committee gave the dentist notice of its action to take immediate action on his registration.

Shortly afterwards, the dentist provided a submission about this proposed action, saying he could not at that time practise dentistry due to an injury, and that while he was unlikely to return to the profession, he would like to keep his registration.

A few days later AHPRA was contacted by his employer about the conditions on the dentist’s registration, and told that he had been employed with them since mid-2016.

The Committee took immediate action and the dentist resigned from his employment, and surrendered his registration.

At the tribunal hearing, he said that most of the scripts for the family member were for a person with a long-term medical condition, and admitted to self-prescribing. He agreed that he had failed to provide adequate care and treatment to the family member, and acted outside the scope of his registered health specialty in the treatment and care of a family member.

He also admitted to failing to maintain professional boundaries regarding his treatment and care of a family member, and that he provided false and misleading information about both his prescribing and his employment status to an investigator.

The Tribunal decided that the dentist had behaved in a way that constituted professional misconduct, and he was reprimanded.

He was also disqualified from holding or applying for registration as a dentist before mid-2020.

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