Using a position to gain advantage over someone is a terrible act in itself. But when a professional abuses power over someone who expects that person to treat them with the utmost care, the act becomes a serious cause for concern. This was evident in a recent case brought before the NSW District Court where a doctor was found guilty of breaching conduct.
Background of the case
A complaint was submitted by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), which included ten individual accusations from the doctor's patients. Each female patient was aged between 20 and 45 years of age and attended the Mayfield Medical Practice where the respondent worked as a general practitioner.
All patients alleged unsatisfactory professional conduct under section 139B of the National Law, in the time between 2013 and 2015. They claimed the care exercised by the respondent was significantly below the standard reasonably expected by a practitioner of an equivalent level of experience or training.
Of the 10 complaints, the respondent's charges were summarised by the following themes:
- Asking patients to remove clothing when not necessary.
- Failure to give privacy during consultations.
- Sending a large number of inappropriate personal text messages.
- Incorrectly diagnosing medical conditions.
- Indecent assault.
The respondent's duty of care
The respondent came to work in Australia from Pakistan on a temporary work (skilled) visa. Due to issues regarding the restrictions on his visa, the practitioner was suspended from practice in late 2015. Before this suspension, the respondent received complaints from prior patients regarding his conduct. During the appeal process, the Medical Council did not alter their decision to suspend his licence.
In regard to the present 10 complaints, the respondent claimed he was not guilty of deliberately transgressing the Code of Conduct. The Code was referred to during the hearing. It says:
"Doctors have a duty to make the care of patients their first concern and to practise medicine safely and effectively. They must be ethical and trustworthy."
After taking this and the respondent's behaviour into consideration, the court concluded that he had practised unsatisfactory professional conduct and therefore had breached the Code. The proceedings to confirm disciplinary actions were adjourned to a later date.
Medical negligence can come in many forms as demonstrated by the above case. If you feel a professional has breached a duty of care, you can submit a claim for compensation. Get in touch with the medical negligence lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners today to see how we can help.