The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has successfully prosecuted a mobile dental service provider for failing to ensure that staff, who X-rayed thousands of children, were properly licensed to do so.
The EPA welcomed the Sydney Downing Centre Local Court’s decision on 13 August 2018 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 NSW providing dental services to schools. The mobile units contained orthopantomograms (OPGs), a type of X-ray machine used in dentistry practice, to examine teeth and jaw structures.
Between 13 August 2013 and 20 March 2015 employees of AADC were instructed to take OPGs of school children even though they did not hold a licence to do so under the Radiation Control Act 1990.
AADC entered pleas of guilty 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,” Magistrate Donnelly told the court.
“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.”
EPA Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford said it was inexcusable that AADC operated in the manner they 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,” Mr Gifford said.
“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. 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’.
“To allow unlicensed staff to operate OPGs on school children showed a blatant disregard for environmental regulations.
“The decision by the Court reflects the seriousness of the offence 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.