By JR on Saturday, July 09, 2011
Incompetent Vietnamese dentist still working despite ruining man's teeth
A DENTIST who was ordered to pay more than $1.3 million for damage he caused to a patient's mouth is continuing to practise in NSW, despite his own lawyers calling him negligent and incompetent.
Dr Mark Phung removed the nerves from every one of his patient's teeth, despite only three of them requiring surgery. Over 18 months and 53 consultations he installed 28 crowns, all of which need to be replaced.
In a decision made by the NSW Supreme Court last week, the Sydney dentist was ordered to pay more than $1.3 million to cover economic loss and future earnings for the trainee arborist whose teeth he damaged. The judgment was scathing of his conduct.
The Herald contacted Dr Phung at his surgery yesterday and asked why he was still practising. "Only God knows," he said. "I'm busy at the moment. If I can give you an answer, I will call you. I'm with a patient."
Dr Phung's own lawyer said his treatment was incompetent and carried out by a man not competent to perform it. "There is evidence and agreement, of course, that Dr Phung's treatment was hopeless."
The court accepted that the crowns and bridges were so poorly constructed that they trapped food and caused mouth infections. Every one of the procedures Dr Phung performed would require redoing, the court heard. The patient, Todd Dean, would require 50 consultations to have them repaired.
A dentist who reviewed Dr Phung's work told the court it was "inexcusably bad" and "completely outside the bounds of what any reputable practitioner might prescribe or perform".
Another expert witness said: "I find it difficult to understand how Dr Phung could proceed to remove every nerve of every tooth … without wishing to confirm his diagnosis and treatment regime with a specialist endodontist or someone experienced in managing facial pain."
A spokeswoman for the council responsible for registering and investigating dentists had no answer as to why Dr Phung had not been suspended - and was working with no conditions or reprimands noted on his registration. "The Dental Council of NSW is unable to comment as there is a matter in process."
Yesterday, Mr Dean would say only: "He's a butcher, not a dentist."