A TODDLER, 2, suffered a drug overdose requiring emergency hospital treatment after a Broadmeadow dentist administered a tranquilizer during a dental procedure in November, 2015.
The incident occurred one year after another child, 7, seen by Broadmeadow dentist Dr Hitesh Gupta, 36, was treated at John Hunter Hospital for a similar reaction following the use of the benzodiazepine Lorazepam at Dr Gupta’s The Smile Factory.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found Dr Gupta guilty of professional misconduct, unprofessional conduct and unsatisfactory professional conduct for the two incidents and a breach relating to conditions imposed on him by the Dental Council of Australia in February, 2016 that allowed him to continue working as a dentist during a Health Care Complaints Commission investigation.
The council found Dr Gupta’s conduct in “putting a small child at significant risk by acting on inadequate information after scant research and against patient safety” was not in keeping with standards expected of a dentist of more than 10 years standing.
Dr Gupta graduated as a dentist from the University of Sydney in 2004.
“His deficient knowledge, understanding and practice and continued sole practice posed a risk to the health and safety of the public,” the council found in February, 2016 after a John Hunter Hospital paediatric dentist made a mandatory report to health authorities after the toddler received emergency treatment at the hospital.
Dr Gupta gave the toddler one quantity of Lorazepam and a second dose an hour later without obtaining informed consent, without being trained in treating medical emergencies and when it was not appropriate to give to a child, the Dental Council found.
The John Hunter Hospital paediatric dentist alerted health authorities to the earlier overdose incident involving the 7-year-old after reviewing hospital cases of patients seen by Dr Gupta.
Despite the serious nature of the two incidents the Dental Council in 2016 found there was “scope for Dr Gupta to remedy his shortcomings”. Conditions targeted at protecting children required him to nominate a supervisor and meet with the supervisor monthly until the HCCC investigation was completed early this year and the matter referred to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
After a tribunal hearing in July Dr Gupta was found guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct for failing to advise the Dental Council that reports about some of the meetings were false because he spoke to the supervisor by phone rather than meet face to face, despite the reports saying all meetings were face to face.
The tribunal recorded its concern that Dr Gupta’s nominated supervisor declined to respond to a summons to appear.
“In allowing an inaccurate record to stand it cannot be said that (Dr Gupta) has demonstrated the requisite level of candour and honesty with the supervising authority that is required of a medical professional,” the tribunal found.
“When considered as a whole his conduct constitutes professional misconduct.”
The tribunal will consider protective orders against the dentist during a hearing in October.