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Ministry welcomes conviction of backyard dentist

18 February 2005

Ministry welcomes conviction of backyard dentist

The Ministry of Health has today welcomed the conviction of Mt Roskill woman Rong Fang Zhang, who was convicted of charges related to unlawfully practising dentistry.

Zhang was convicted yesterday in Auckland District Court and fined $2000 plus $750 costs. The Ministry of Health had laid charges under the Dental Act 1988.

Acting Director of Public Health Ashley Bloomfield said the Ministry had gone to great lengths and spent considerable resources to investigate this case, and was pleased it was now resolved.

It was found that Ms Zhang had carried out a large amount of invasive dentistry, including root canal therapy, fillings and extractions and treatment of infection in sub-standard conditions. She had no effective means of sterilising her equipment.

As a result, 1190 patients over the last four or five years were identified as having been put at risk of blood-borne infection. These people had to be traced and advised about seeking appropriate medical care by the Auckland Medical Officer of Health. Mr Bloomfield said this case reinforced the importance of making sure any dentist providing treatment is reputable, suitably qualified and registered with the Dental Council.

"The Ministry takes these issues very seriously and will investigate and prosecute where it can. A penalty such as this sends a clear message to others that a breach of the law is simply unacceptable."

The Dental Act has now been superseded by the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act, which has even stronger penalties.


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