Mobile Dental Service Prosecuted for Unlicensed X-Rays

Dentistry Today


The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has successfully prosecuted a mobile dental service provider for failing to ensure that its staff, who x-rayed thousands of children, was properly licensed to do so. 

The EPA welcomed the Sydney Downing Centre Local Court’s decision on August 13 to convict and fine Australian Aged Dental Care Pty Ltd (AADC) a total of $198,000 and pay the EPA’s legal costs of $125,000.

AADC operated four mobile dental units that travelled around New South Wales providing dental services to schools. The units used orthopantomograms (OPGs) to examine to examine teeth and jaw structures.

Between August 13, 2013, and March 20, 2015, AADC employees were instructed to take OPGs of schoolchildren even though they did not hold a license to do so under the Radiation Control Act of 1990. AADC entered guilty pleas to nine charges brought by the EPA.

In delivering his decision, Magistrate Hugh Donnelly said the defendant’s breach of the act was “systemic and widespread” and “had little regard to best practice.”

“The schools, the parents, and the children placed their trust in the defendant,” Donnelly said.

“The schools, the parents, and the children were all entitled to expect the defendant to conduct its affairs in compliance with the law as it regulates the use of radiation and in particular to abide by the licensing system under the act,” Donnelly said. 

EPA chief environmental regulator Mark Gifford said it was inexcusable that AADC operated in the manner it did.

“Licensing is used to safeguard the community and the environment by ensuring that only appropriately trained and qualified people are allowed to use radiation equipment,” said Gifford.

“Best practice radiography should follow a clinical examination of the patient. That determination should be made by a dentist or a person who is qualified and trained to take OPGs,” Gifford said.

“AADC’s own procedure manual stipulates that ‘diagnostic imaging procedures are only undertaken where there is an identified clinical need’ and that ‘only a licensed individual must take OPGs,’” Gifford continued.

“To allow unlicensed staff to operate OPGs on schoolchildren showed a blatant disregard for environmental regulations,” Gifford said. “The decision by the court reflects the seriousness of the offense and the importance of complying with environmental laws and standards.”

AADC was ordered to publish a notice in The Daily Telegraph and Sydney Morning Herald within 28 days outlining the court’s orders.

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