THE investigation into an Orange dentist who burnt the faces of three patients during treatment has been reopened following an intervention by the Health Minister.
Health Minister Jillian Skinner took the extraordinary step last month following an initial investigation that decided against reprimanding the dentist or hospital where the operations were performed.
Dr Arthur Mills burnt the patients’ faces during surgery at Dudley Private Hospital during 2009-10, however the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) decided against taking any action.
The Minister’s spokesperson Kate Benson said the demand came following the Minister seeing photos of Orange woman Lanai Mooney’s burns following surgery.
“When the Minister saw the photos she decided to intervene ... she was quite moved,” Ms Benson said.
“We’re still waiting to hear back on the reinvestigation.”
She said the Minister had also met with the Dental Council in order to look at regulatory controls if dentists have been found negligent, and to see protocols put in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Dudley Private Hospital chief executive officer Trevor Matheson said Dr Mills finished working from the hospital last month.
“He made a decision to reduce his time with us previously,” Mr Matheson said.
Rural Dental Action Group co-founder Marj Bollinger said it was easy for dental drills to overheat and there should be a protective barrier used to prevent burns to patients.
“I feel sorry for both parties ... there’s yet to be something that can prevent it happening to both the dentist and the patient,” Mrs Bollinger said.
The Dental Council of NSW said they were unable to provide information about an individual practitioner, however the HCCC were re-examining the complaint against Dr Mills.
When contacted the HCCC said they were unable to provide information on individual cases, however the average time it takes to investigate a complaint is 285 days.
Dr Mills still continues to work from his private practice in Orange.