A hearing tribunal has found an Alberta dentist “committed serious breaches of his professional and ethical duties” after a young girl was left with brain damage following a dental procedure in 2016.
The hearing tribunal of the Alberta Dental Association and College (ADA&C) stated in its ruling Friday that the “bulk of the charges of unprofessional conduct” against Dr. William Mather have been proven.
In September 2016, Amber Athwal — who was four at the time — was rushed to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton after undergoing a dental procedure at Mather’s downtown office. She went from being a healthy, functional child to being unable to talk, walk or recognize her parents.
Athwal now requires around-the-clock care.
The ADA&C said this was a lengthy and difficult but necessary hearing. The college said in its ruling that Mather and his staff were not fully trained or prepared to prevent or deal with Athwal’s medical emergency.
“The hearing tribunal has found that the allegations against Dr. Mather that raise these issues have been proven and constitute unprofessional conduct,” the ruling states.
In a statement issued on Friday, the CEO of the ADA&C said this was a tragic situation.
“We would like to express our continued sympathy for what happened to Amber and her family,” Dr. Randall Croutze said. “The ADA&C’s primary responsibility is to protect the public and decrease the likelihood of this sort of tragedy happening again. The investigation and hearing tribunal were thorough processes, and we appreciate everyone’s patience as they unfolded.”
On Friday afternoon, Amber’s father Raman Athwal told Global News his family is relieved, but also heartbroken by the decision.
“We are thankful to the ADA&C, that they took our complaint seriously and everything was done properly, and now we know the truth,” Athwal said. “But on the other side, we felt heartbroken that this whole incident was preventable with following basic procedure.”
Athwal said his family has lost trust in medical professionals as a result of the incident.
“As I come from India, the doctors there are treated like God. But after this incident, our trust is totally broken. We don’t rely on any medical professionals.”
The next phase of the hearing will be what’s called the “sanction phase,” where the hearing tribunal will determine what orders, if any, should be made against Mather.