A former Auckland orthodontist accused of dumping his patients mid-treatment and fleeing to Australia has successfully fought to defend himself at disciplinary proceedings that came to a surprise halt when he showed up on the final day.
Saad Al-Mozany also revealed today that he “never meant to ignore” his patients, believes there was “no harm done” and hopes to return to New Zealand.
He faces one charge of professional misconduct laid by the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) relating to 12 patients at his former practice, The Orthodontic Institute, in 2018.
They accused Al-Mozany of cancelling appointments, simply not showing up and not responding to numerous calls and emails. One day, the practice door was found locked and patients learned he had moved to Australia without notice.
Some patients claimed they had to complete treatment with another orthodontist despite having paid Al-Mozany in full up front, and had not received any refund.
Eight provided evidence during a two-day Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (HPDT) hearing in July, which Al-Mozany failed to turn up to until the eleventh hour.
Just before the final patient was to provide evidence, Al-Mozany made contact with the tribunal and the hearing was adjourned.
He was given until today to provide evidence proving he had no idea the hearing was taking place and reasons why it should not proceed.
Representing himself, Al-Mozany successfully persuaded the tribunal to allow him to defend himself against the professional misconduct charge, and against some patient evidence which he claimed was wrong.
He has been given six weeks to gather evidence and the tribunal hearing will reconvene next year.
“I would not be here if I was ignoring the HPDT or the prosecution against me, I would not be here at the moment if I was blatantly ignoring you,” he told the tribunal today via audio visual link from Alexandria, Australia.
“The lease of my practice in Auckland got taken from underneath me due to the fact that I couldn’t pay the rent on the site. I was locked out of the practice.
“I have emails, text messages that show that has actually occurred.”
Al-Mozany claimed he didn’t have access to patient records and he did not mean to ignore them.
He said he would like to challenge “quite a few” of the patient statements and called some “factually incorrect”.
Al-Mozany told the tribunal he hopes to come back and practise in New Zealand because he has two elderly parents that need care.
He claimed he did not receive any correspondence from the PCC notifying him that the hearing against him was to take place.
“I did not receive any communication. If I did I would have contacted the HPDT, and I did, the second I found out,” he said.
But the PCC said Al-Mozany had “his head in the sand” and he did not wish to engage in the tribunal hearing.
Legal counsel Anita Miller said the PCC sent him at least three letters via post and numerous emails to his Gmail account, and suggested Al-Mozany simply did not read them.
She suggested Al-Mozany failed to provide evidence this morning to the contrary.
“You haven’t provided any proof that your Gmail account wasn’t working,” Millar said.
“Did you think it would just go away if you didn’t participate in process?” she asked him.
“No, not at all” Al-Mozany replied.
Miller said more of his former patients have contacted the Dental Council with complaints in light of July’s hearing.
All patients who provided evidence have permanent name suppression.
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