On March 4, 2019, the Medical Council of New South Wales (NSW) suspended a medical practitioner’s registration (the applicant) over an incident involving the man and a patient. Despite his suspension, the medical professional submitted an appeal to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal of NSW, challenging the decision.
What caused the suspension?
The incident which led to the suspension occurred on November 15, 2018 at a Sydney hospital. On that day, the applicant was the anaesthetist for a patient who was due to undergo a colonoscopy to investigate a rectal tumour. The applicant placed the man under general anaesthetic before the surgeon proceeded to check the patient.
After an initial check, the surgeon discovered that the patient’s tumour was too large for him to perform a colonoscopy. Shortly after, the surgeon invited the applicant to examine the tumour, despite this being an act outside of his duties. As he touched the affected area, the surgeon picked up his mobile phone and either took or pretended to take a photograph of the applicant.
A nurse, who was also present at the time of the incident, reported what occurred to the hospital hierarchy.
The Medical Council was made aware of the incident and made a complaint to the Health Care Complaints Commission. Subsequently, the anaesthetist was suspended. The surgeon’s behaviour was not included in this case.
How did the applicant appeal?
The applicant claimed clinical curiosity was the only reason he touched the affected area. This was supported by official reports that there was no sexual element involved in the incident. Following his suspension, the applicant expressed deep remorse for his actions and completed a course in patient-doctor boundaries. The court also found the applicant had no prior issues and was of good character.
As such, it was concluded that the applicant did not pose a further threat to patients and therefore the decision of the Medical Council of NSW to suspend the registration of the medical practitioner was set aside.
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