Unregistered dentist ‘may have exposed patients to blood-borne viruses’

A dentist's instruments
Muhammet Velipasaoglu allegedly provided dental treatment from a home in north Melbourne between 2003 and May this year. Photograph: Alamy

A man who allegedly posed as a dentist in Victoria may have exposed patients to a range of blood-borne viruses because of poor infection prevention and control procedures, the state health department says.

Muhammet Velipasaoglu allegedly provided dental treatment to patients from a residential property in the north Melbourne suburb of Meadow Heights between 2003 and May this year.

He had never registered to practise as a dentist in Australia, said Victoria’s acting chief health officer, Dr Finn Romanes.

Because of poor infection prevention and control procedures, he said there was “a low but real risk of transmission of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV”.

“We are taking the unusual step of appealing to the public to contact us because the alleged unregistered dentist did not provide any reliable records about who may have received treatment.”

After a tipoff, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency launched an investigation and raided Velipasaoglu’s property in May, assisted by police. Equipment was seized and the “clinic” was shut down.

AHPRA charged Velipasaoglu and will prosecute him through the magistrates court for pretending to be a dentist, using a protected title, carrying out restricted dental acts and for possession of schedule prescription-only drugs. A date for the hearing was yet to be set.

The health department said Velipasaoglu had trained as a dentist in Turkey but was not registered to practise in Victoria.

The chief executive of the Australian Dental Association, Robert Boyd-Boland, said cases allegations of unregistered practitioners in dentistry were rare. “I’ve been in the job for over a decade and in that time there is one other case I am aware of,” he said.

He said he was surprised that the allegations hadn’t come to light earlier.

Anyone who believes they or a family member may have been a patient of Velipasaoglu has been urged to call the department on 1800 356 061, with the Turkish community believed to be particularly at risk.

Do you know more? Email melissa.davey@theguardian.com