Unregistered dentist pleads guilty to 11 charges

15 Jul 2021

An unregistered Victorian dentist who continued to practise has been fined $5,000 after pleading guilty to 11 charges brought by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra).

John Pulvirenti, whose registration with the Dental Board of Australia (the Board) lapsed in 2018, pleaded guilty in the Magistrates Court of Victoria to three charges of holding himself out as a dentist when he was not registered and eight charges of performing a restricted dental act in breach of the National Law.

Ahpra and the Board protect the public by ensuring that only registered health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified can be registered. Falsely claiming to be a registered health practitioner or performing a restricted dental act without being registered is a criminal offence under the National Law.

The charges related to Mr Pulvirenti holding himself out as a dentist and performing a restricted dental act on several patients from April to August 2019 while working at two dental clinics in Victoria. This included adding and changing patients’ brackets and wires.

Mr Pulvirenti has since been re-registered as a dental practitioner and is listed on the online national register of practitioners.

Magistrate Burt also ordered Mr Pulvirenti to pay Ahpra costs of $6,620.

Magistrate Burt commented that, ’the system of registration is an important one … that is designed to protect the public, and the integrity of the system relies on the honesty and compliance of those holding themselves out to be dentists. Offending of this nature undermines public confidence in the system of registration of dentists generally.'

Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said the outcome sent a strong message to health practitioners about the consequences of continuing to practise when not registered.

‘Registration renewal safeguards patients because practitioners must confirm they meet specific requirements to ensure they continue to be safe and competent to practise. All registered health practitioners, including dental practitioners, must renew their registration every year.

‘Always check the online national register of practitioners to be sure your health practitioner is registered,’ Mr Fletcher said. 

Dental Board of Australia Chair, Dr Murray Thomas, said a dental practitioner continuing to practise after allowing their registration to lapse was completely unacceptable.

‘This is a serious breach of professional obligations. Not only is public safety put at risk but so is public trust and confidence in the dental profession.’

Anyone with concerns about someone who might be claiming to be a registered health practitioner when they are not should contact Ahpra on 1300 419 495.

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Page reviewed 15/07/2021