Dentist who let therapist fit braces suspended, fined $10k
This is the fourth time Dr Sng Wee Hock, who owns and runs WH Dental Surgeons in Hougang, has been punished by the Singapore Dental Council.
A dentist has been suspended for four months and fined $10,000 for letting an oral health therapist fit braces on a young boy.
Dr Sng Wee Hock, who owns and runs WH Dental Surgeons in Hougang, was also fined $8,000 for not keeping proper notes.
However, he was cleared of a third charge of removing the 13-year-old's four wisdom teeth as well as four premolars.
In June 2015, the boy saw Dr Sng to have braces fitted to fix his crooked teeth. The dentist extracted eight teeth. But after a year, during which he suffered constant pain and saw no improvement, the boy was taken by his father to another dentist. This dentist said that the braces had been fixed wrongly, and that it had not been necessary to extract the four wisdom teeth.
The father made a complaint to the Singapore Dental Council (SDC) against Dr Sng. The council took up the case and a disciplinary committee was formed to hear it.
The prosecution claimed that the removal of the wisdom teeth was both unnecessary and unacceptable because pulling out the four premolars would have been enough to deal with his "crowded" jaw.
Both experts said it had been unnecessary to remove the four wisdom teeth. But only one said it was unacceptable, while the other said only that he would have taken a different approach to the treatment.
The disciplinary committee said the prosecution had to show that the extraction was not just unnecessary but also unacceptable to return a verdict of guilty. The dentist was cleared on this count.
On the charge of not keeping proper notes, the prosecutor representing the SDC said they were "grossly inadequate" as they did not give details of the wires or brackets used in the braces, notes on the surgery or the amount of anaesthetics given to the boy.
An expert witness, a senior orthodontist, said the notes were in different styles of handwriting, "so I don't know who is the scribe, who is the clinician; who is doing the writing and who is treating the patient".
The committee agreed that Dr Sng's note-taking "fell far short of what is required and was also done in a haphazard manner" and amounted to serious negligence.
He was also accused of letting an oral health therapist fit braces on the boy. The therapist said he had been tasked on several occasions by Dr Sng to put in separators and elastic bands for the boy's braces.
Dr Sng denied this, but the committee found the therapist's version "more credible".
The therapist has been dealt with separately by the SDC for performing a procedure he was not licensed to and was suspended for three months in May.
This is the fourth time Dr Sng has been punished by the SDC. The prosecution had asked for him to be struck off the dental registry, given that this is the fourth time he has faced disciplinary action. But the committee said the previous cases had no bearing on the current charges.
In 2013, he was fined $15,000 for telling a patient that the cost of her implant was fully claimable from Medisave - which was not the case.
In 2016, Dr Sng was suspended for 15 months and fined $40,000 for "abdicating his professional responsibilities" and leaving the work to his dental assistants.
In 2017, he was suspended for 15 months and fined $50,000 for not supervising two Australian-trained dentists when he was their approved supervisor. The maximum fine was imposed as his action was deemed "driven by profits".
In all four cases, he was also censured, had to give a written undertaking not to reoffend and pay part or all of the costs of the hearings. As he is still serving the 15-month suspension meted out in 2017, the four-month suspension will start only when his current suspension ends.
The prosecution claimed that the removal of the wisdom teeth was both unnecessary and unacceptable because pulling out the four premolars would have been enough to deal with his "crowded" jaw. Both experts said it had been unnecessary to remove the four wisdom teeth. But only one said it was unacceptable, while the other said only that he would have taken a different approach to the treatment.
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