13 Jun 2018
A Victorian court has convicted a man and fined him $65,000 plus $25,000 in costs for unlawfully claiming to be a dental specialist and performing restricted dental acts on two patients.
Charges were filed by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
Mr Edward Lipohar was convicted in the Ringwood Magistrates’ Court on 7 June 2018, after pleading guilty to three charges. They included holding himself out as (claiming to be) a dental specialist (orthodontist), and two charges of performing restricted dental acts on two patients.
The charges related to Mr Lipohar’s conduct between November 2015 and September 2016 while working at an orthodontic business with premises in Nunawading and Fitzroy, Victoria. During this time he attempted to carry out orthodontic procedures, including fitting corrective or restorative dental appliances.
Orthodontic procedures are restricted dental acts and can only be carried out by someone registered as a a dentist. Mr Lipohar continued to attempt those treatments after being directed to stop by AHPRA in August 2016.
Mr Lipohar has never held registration as a dental practitioner or as a registered health practitioner or student under the National Law with any National Board.
AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said that the Register of practitioners helps protect the public from ‘fake’ practitioners.
‘The National Law protects the public by ensuring that only registered health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified can use protected titles such as dental practitioner or specialist titles such as orthodontist. We remind patients to check the national online Register of practitioners, to ensure that they are seeing a registered health practitioner.’
The court heard Mr Lipohar had little knowledge of the correct procedure and the patients he attempted to treat were unaware he lacked the necessary skills. Orthodontists identified significant problems with one patient’s teeth in subsequent years, while another experienced pain after Mr Lipohar fitted a retainer. Complaints were later submitted to AHPRA which filed charges against Mr Lipohar following an investigation.
At sentencing, Mr Lipohar was ordered to pay legal costs to AHPRA of $25,000 in addition to the $65,000 fine.
Dental Board of Australia chair Dr John Lockwood AM welcomed the outcome as a strong deterrent to anyone who sought to undermine public trust in the profession.
‘Protecting the public is of paramount importance to the Dental Board of Australia and AHPRA. When someone visits a registered dental practitioner, they are entitled to assume the person they are seeing meets the standards required to provide them with the care that they need. Together with AHPRA, we will continue to seek the strongest possible penalties against anyone who claims to be a registered dental practitioner when they are not.’
Anyone with concerns about whether an individual is registered can check the Register of practitioners maintained by AHPRA online (www.ahpra.gov.au) or contact AHPRA on 1300 419 495.