Northland dentist suspended after string of complaints

By Imran Ali -
2 comments
A Northland dentist has been suspended after complaints from patients included incorrect diagnosis and not obtaining adequate patient information. PHOTO/FILE-GETTY
A Northland dentist has been suspended after complaints from patients included incorrect diagnosis and not obtaining adequate patient information. PHOTO/FILE-GETTY

A Northland dentist with a string of complaints from patients has been suspended.

The High Court has upheld a New Zealand Dental Council decision to suspend Northland dentist Osvaldo Reyes Gonzalez until he successfully completes a competency programme and an exam.

An interim suspension was enforced on Osvaldo Reyes Gonzalez in July 2014 after the council received complaints from at least 25 patients he had treated at Lumino in Kerikeri.

Complaints included not obtaining adequate patient information, incorrect diagnosis, and not knowing when to refer patients for pain diagnosis, endodontics (specialist treatment for dental pulp issues) and surgery.

In July 2013, Gonzalez moved to New Zealand from Australia where his registration was cancelled in 2001 following convictions for drink-driving, resisting arrest, and assaulting police. He secured re-registration but was only allowed to practise under supervision.

When he moved across the Tasman, he was granted registration by the New Zealand Dental Council because of a reciprocal agreement between both countries.

However, Gonzalez did not disclose his previous criminal convictions to the council, as required, saying he understood it would make its own enquiries with Australian authorities.

Between July 18, 2013 and October 7, 2013 when he worked at Lumino in Kerikeri, the clinic received at least 25 complaints from patients.

A council-appointed Competence Review Committee concluded Gonzalez was practising below the required standard of competence to the point he may seriously harm his patients even while under supervision.

He bought a dental practice in Paihia where he started work in October 2013.

The council appointed another committee to look into concerns regarding his new clinic.
He was suspended pending his successful completion of a competency programme and passing the New Zealand Dental Registration Examination.

Gonzalez applied for a judicial review in the High Court against the council's decision that he pass the NZDREX exam and that he was suspended from practice until he did so.
He argued those conditions were unreasonable.

Gonzalez said the public could be protected by limiting his scope of practice or him working under direct supervision.

He asked the council to allow him to do some work in dentistry otherwise he would be unable to pay for the course and exam he was required to undertake.

Justice Jillian Mallon said while the conditions the council imposed on Gonzalez was not unreasonable, it ought to have considered whether he may have been allowed to work in some capacity after the successful completion of the competency programme.

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