Dental Scare

13/06/2012 12:19

Beware of dentists who may give you the scare of your life with their unprofessional conduct, warns the Consumer Council of Fiji. The call comes after the Council received complaints from some members of the public alleging impersonation, negligence and incompetence against two Suva-based dentists.

A 30-year-old woman sought the assistance of the Council after she lost her healthy front tooth in a procedure. The woman had visited a Suva-based dental clinic for just an L shape gold filling. After undergoing this procedure, she suffered swellings around her nose area and had infection with high fever. This procedure was performed by an unlicensed dentist.

She returned to the clinic but to another branch located at Sports City where another dentist performed a sequence of procedures within a span of three days and in the end, she lost her healthy tooth. She now wears a denture. She paid $200 cash and two 22 karat gold chains to the dentist.  The Council was informed of how the dentist operated on a barter system - gold ornaments for a gold filling or gold plate tooth.

Another woman from Canada in her late 30’s visited another dental clinic around the Flea Market area in Suva, with a decayed tooth. Upon extraction, she was advised by the dentist, who performed the procedure on her that her tooth had four roots and unfortunately, one root remained embedded.   On the same night, she experienced pain in the tooth next to the extracted one which was neither decayed nor had any infection.  She was attended by an employee who impersonated as the dentist and carried out a dental extraction on her. The impersonator has no qualification in that area and therefore he is not registered by the Fiji Medical Council.

Unfortunately, in both cases the owners of the dental clinic who are registered dentists supported such illegal activities in their premises.

The Council is urging the public to be mindful of such unscrupulous dentists and run background checks on them before seeking their services. People must ask for the name of the dentist who perform the procedures on them and also sight the registration certificate. The Council is aware of fresh graduates being hired without them holding proper practicing license or certificates to act as aide in the clinics around the country.

These cases are just the tip of the iceberg as many go unreported. The Council is working closely with the Ministry of Health and the Fiji Medical and Dental Secretariat. The above mentioned cases have been referred to the secretariat in accordance to the Medical and Dental Practitioner Decree 2010 and it now waits for the outcome of their findings into the case.

Under Section 92 of the Decree, those not holding a current medical or dental practice licence are liable for a fine of up to $50,000 or six months imprisonment, or both. The complaints received by the Council will not only test the effectiveness of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Decree 2010, but also the effectiveness of the Fiji Medical Council put in place to protect the consumers and dental practices based on ethics.