Fraudulent dental practitioners face severe penalties under new amendment
MELBOURNE, Australia: The Queensland Parliament has recently passed the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 that increases penalties for people who fraudulently claim to be dentists or other health practitioners. The updated legislation includes higher fines and possible prison terms, which are designed to bolster the protection offered to the public under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law).
The National Law regulates the practice of 15 health disciplines and requires anyone using a protected title, such as dentist, chiropractor or psychologist, to be registered with the corresponding national board. It is illegal to claim to be a practitioner in any of the health fields covered by the Australian Health Protection Regulation Authority (AHPRA) without appropriate qualifications and registration.
One example of this misrepresentation is described in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled “Fake doctors to face jail time under tough new penalties”. It tells the story of an unlicensed dentist who was caught and sentenced in 2015 after illegally treating hundreds of dental patients in his garage for more than a decade. According to the article, some of the patients had suffered greatly after the dental procedures.
The law governing registration has always been tough on those masquerading as qualified health practitioners, and more than 50 prosecutions have taken place since 2014. The new measures take these sanctions even further. “All health ministers recognise that penalties need to be tougher for serious cases. When someone pretends to be a registered health practitioner, they pose a significant risk to the public,” said AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher.
Fraudulent practitioners now face up to three years in prison for each offence. The maximum fines have increased from A$30,000 (€18,500) to A$60,000 (€37,000) per offence for an individual and from $60,000 (€37,000) to A$120,000 (€74,000) per offence for corporate entities.
More information can be obtained on the AHPRA website.