Guilty of clincal failures but still allowed to practice
A dentist working for NHS Shetland appeared for the second time before the General Dental Council recently, and was found guilty of misconduct – but has been allowed to continue working under supervision.
Dentist Paul D’Eathe faced charges brought by two patients – referred to as patients A and B – regarding his failures in their treatment over a 10-year period. He admitted many charges and the GDC found the majority of the allegations against him proven. Mr D’Eathe’s fitness to practice was found to be impaired but he will be able to work if he co-operates with the conditions laid down by the GDC.
A statement from NHS Shetland read: “NHS Shetland is aware of the outcome of the findings of the recent GDC hearing.
“We always work closely with the professional regulators and will, therefore, continue to provide the required professional support and supervision over the next year.”
The charges against Mr D’Eathe cited his failure to update Patient A’s medical history between 2001 and 2011 and Patient B’s medical history between 2001 and 2010. He was said to have made inadequate clinical notes in relation to both patients, including the absence of records of numerous appointments and he failed to take appropriate diagnostic radiographs.
In respect of Patient B, he failed to take radiographs prior to undertaking crown treatment in January 2002, and failed to organise the proposed teeth extractions in a timely manner.
Regarding Patient A, the orthodontic treatment provided was not of a standard expected in a number of respects. In particular, he failed to undertake an orthodontic assessment prior to commencing orthodontic treatment, failed to obtain informed consent and did not undertake accurate monitoring during the course of treatment.
The GDC concluded: “The committee considers that the clinical failures identified in this case were numerous, wide-ranging, repeated over a protracted period of time and were serious. In particular, the failure to provide Patient A with sufficient information to enable informed consent in relation to your orthodontic treatment is a serious failure of good practice.
“Moreover, the clinical failures identified in the treatment you provided to both patients were compounded by the significant and serious shortcomings in your record keeping relating to many consultations. It notes that for some consultations that took place there were no clinical notes recorded at all.
“In the light of the findings against you, the Committee is in no doubt that throughout the 10-year period when you treated Patients A and B on numerous occasions you breached the following paragraphs of the GDC’s Maintaining Standards: Guidance to Dentists on Professional and Personal Conduct.
These include the fact that the patient is entitled to a high standard of care, the treatment, its risks and alternatives must be explained, consent must be given and medical history must be updated.
This is the second time Mr D’Eathe has been before the GDC. Earlier he was found to have failed in his treatment of 14 patients between 2004 and 2011, and he was suspended for two years.
He returned to work in April this year with conditions imposed on his registration.
These included undertaking a training, revision, assessment, mentoring and support programme and a practitioner action plan formulated for him by NHS Education for Scotland.
He had to have a clinical supervisor within NHS Shetland who would report on his progress to the GDC, and he had to confine his work to the NHS and not undertake any out of hours or locum work without the agreement of the GDC.
He also had to notify the GDC of any professional appointment he took, together with the employer’s contact details, and allow the GDC to exchange information with his employer. Additionally he had to inform the GDC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against him, and notify them if he applied for work outside the UK.
Although he failed to engage with NHS Shetland to address his deficiencies until just before his suspension, he undertook training while suspended and has made progress since being reinstated in April.
He will continue to work under these conditions until August.