Dentist delegated procedures to assistants

Instead of personally carrying out orthodontic procedures on a patient, a dentist 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), Dr Sng Wee Hock, 43, was suspended from practising for 15 months and fined $40,000.

Yesterday, he appealed for a lighter punishment but the High Court dismissed his bid and upheld the suspension and fine.

This is not Dr Sng's first brush with a disciplinary inquiry for professional misconduct.

In 2014, he was fined $15,000 for wrongly telling a patient that the cost of her dental implant could be fully claimed from Medisave.

Dr Sng practises under the name of WH Dental Surgeons, which has clinics in Punggol, Hougang and Seletar.

In July last year, he faced a disciplinary committee on 14 charges of delegating the administration of various orthodontic treatments to his dental assistants.

All charges involved the same patient.

He pleaded guilty to 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.

In ordering the suspension and fine, the committee said it was sending a clear message to the profession that delegation of duties is a serious breach of the law governing dental practitioners.

"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 in its grounds of decision.

Dr Sng's suspension will take effect from Feb 24, after his lawyer S. Selvaraj asked for some time for him to settle business matters.

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2017, with the headline 'Dentist delegated procedures to assistants'. Print Edition | Subscribe