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Dentist to face disciplinary hearings following allegations of professional misconduct

In May 2018, Dr. James Mao was convicted of two counts of assault with a needle. The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario has filed two notices of hearing against Mao alleging several charges of professional misconduct in connection to his criminal court proceedings.

THUNDER BAY — A Thunder Bay dentist is facing several allegations of professional misconduct in connection to criminal charges he pleaded guilty to more than two years ago in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario served Dr. James Mao with two notices of a discipline hearing on Feb. 12, 2020, in connection to the following allegations:

  • Abuse of a patient
  • Contravened a federal, provincial, territorial law, municipal by-law or rule of a public hospital
  • Disgraceful, dishonourable, unprofessional or unethical conduct
  • Failed to provide accurate information to the College
  • Found guilty of an offence relevant to suitability to practice

In an interview with, Mao stated he is upset the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario is considering further penalties and worried about the possible loss or suspension of his dental licence. One of the complainants has also filed a civil lawsuit against him related to the charges, Mao said.

"It's gotten me very, very quite upset and losing faith in the system," Mao said.

The college alleges Mao contravened the Public Hospitals Act with respect to dental care to the public when he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a weapon on May 18, 2018.

Mao said on two separate occasions he was training staff on how to suction a patient's mouth after the dentist administers anesthesia through a needle. During each incident, Mao said the dental assistants who were in training were having trouble learning the technique.

"Long story short, they still didn't get it so I said 'How about I administer some anesthetic in your mouth so you experience the awful taste of it so you can appreciate what the patient is going through?'" Mao said.

According to a notice of hearing published on the RCDSO's website, the charges stem from an Aug. 12, 2015 incident where Mao threatened an unnamed individual, identified in the notice as “Person A”, a patient and staff member, with a hypodermic needle.

In or about the summer of 2014, Mao threatened another individual, “Person B”, a staff member at his dental practice with a hypodermic needle.

Further, it is alleged Mao committed professional misconduct in 2018 after he was found guilty of the offences which are relevant to his suitability to practice.

The college also alleges Mao abused a patient, Person A, when he threatened her with a hypodermic needle loaded with lidocaine solution after he felt that she had not performed her dental assisting duties correctly.

“[Mao] caused Person A additional physical and emotional harm after [he] threatened her with a needle as she had to undergo treatment for exposure to possible HIV infection,” the notice reads. “The side effects of which are extremely unpleasant because she did not know whether the needle had touched her and she did not know whether it was sterile.”

Additionally, Mao is accused of engaging in disgraceful, dishonourable, unprofessional, and unethical behaviour in relation to both Person A and Person B.

​​​​​​​“[Mao] called Person B, a staff member, inappropriate and offensive names such as “monkey” and “idiot”,” the report says.

​​​​​​​“[Mao] called Person B, a staff member, inappropriate and offensive names such as “monkey” and “idiot”,” the report says.

The notice states Mao was verbally abusive toward staff members, one of whom was also a patient, Person A.

Furthermore, it is alleged Mao committed professional misconduct by providing the college with inaccurate information in a letter dated May 2016 in which he denied threatening staff with a needle. He pleaded guilty to the offence two years later.

If the panel finds Mao committed professional misconduct, they could make an order to revoke or suspend his certificate of registration, impose specified terms, limitations or conditions, require him to appear before the panel to be reprimanded, require him to pay a fine of up to $35,000 to the ministry of finance or any combination of the above.

Discipline hearing dates for Mao have been scheduled for May 4 and May 5, according to the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario.

Under the legislation, the RCDSO is required to conduct its own investigation into a dentist's conduct and a notice of hearing can only be issued following a thorough investigation and decision of the college's screening committee. The length of an investigation can vary depending on a number of factors, a spokesperson with the college said in an emailed statement. 

For the full notice of hearing, visit here.

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