Dentist tried to cover up instrument mishap

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A dentist who left a patient with a piece of snapped equipment in his root canal has been criticised by the deputy health and disability commissioner.

The dentist who didn't tell the patient the instrument had snapped, and tried to cover up the incident, breached the code of conduct for caring for his patient, deputy health and disability commissioner Theo Baker said in her findings released today.

The dentist was aware a piece of a tool used for the root canal had separated or broken off in the patient's root canal and tried to retrieve the piece on three occasions, she said.

The patient was a teenager at the time of the treatment and was made aware of the incident only when he sought a second opinion when his tooth began breaking up following the root canal.

Ms Baker found that the dentist breached the code in several respects.

First, he failed to disclose that an instrument had separated during the root canal treatment.

Secondly, he failed to fully inform the man about the reasons for his re-treatment, the treatment options available to him, and the risks, side effects, benefits and costs of those options, including his skills in the area.

Thirdly, the dentist did not keep proper records of the consultations.

The dentist was referred to the Director of Proceedings for the purpose of deciding whether any proceedings should be taken.

Ms Baker also found the dentist's employer vicariously liable for the dentist's breaches of the code, as it did not have specific written policies in relation to informed consent.


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