The General Dental Council (‘GDC’) and the British Dental Industry Association (‘BDIA’) have warned dentists of the dangers of purchasing counterfeit dental equipment for the use of treating patients.
This warning comes following the suspension of a North West based dentist for three months for repeatedly buying counterfeit dental handpieces online which was discovered after two inspections carried out by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (‘MHRA’). At a fitness to practise hearing before the Professional Conduct Committee (‘PCC’) on 7th July 2017, Hamza Tahir Sheikh admitted to buying non-compliant and counterfeit dental equipment from an online auction website.
The GDC’s most recent guidance document for use by the case examiners when considering allegations referred to them by the Registrar refers to cases of ‘failing to maintain safe standards of premises, equipment or other aspects of the clinical environment or failure to ensure adequate protection for patients such that there is a real risk to the health and safety of patients or the public’ as an example of where it may be appropriate for the case examiners to refer to a Practice Committee.
Jonathan Green, the GDC Director of Fitness to Practise has highlighted following the case of Mr Sheikh that non-compliant equipment endangers the health of both patients and those using it, and it is vital that all equipment meets safety requirements. The GDC are therefore taking such allegations very seriously and such cases are likely to be referred to the PCC.
In sanctioning Mr Sheikh the PCC considered his reflective statement which the PCC found demonstrated his insight. Mr Sheikh stated that he realised his mistakes; had undertaken learning to improve his; and his staff’s knowledge about compliant equipment and now keeps an inventory of all purchases. The PCC consequently found that the risk of repetition is unlikely.
The PCC also noted that no concerns had been raised about Mr Sheikh’s skills and competence as a clinician. Mr Sheikh provided very positive evidence about his character and practice as a dentist. The PCC confirmed that in deciding on the period of three months for suspension, it took into account that it has no ongoing concerns about public safety.
The GDC and BDIA have subsequently warned dentists about purchasing equipment from unreliable sources and to instead ensure that they purchase from reputable suppliers whose products have been tested and comply with the relevant safety standards.
According to MHRA, which regulates all medical devices in the UK, over 10,000 individual pieces of non-compliant or counterfeit dental equipment are seized in dental practices every year.
Edmund Proffitt, Chief Executive of the BDIA, comments, “The recent GDC hearing is a stark reminder of the seriousness of using counterfeit dental devices. It may also sound alarm bells for any dentists who may have purchased from unreliable sources and emphasises the importance of purchasing from reputable suppliers.”
If you are facing a fitness to practise investigation by the GDC please contact our team for expert advice. For more information, visit our GDC page or call 0175 321 6399.
By Brea Carney-Jones, graduate paralegal in the professional discipline team