A doctor is battling a litany of professional misconduct charges at a NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, with his behaviour said to have put the lives of patients in danger.
The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) accused the respondent of several unacceptable practices, including misdiagnosis, inappropriate treatments and refusing to accept guidance or advice from his peers.
Furthermore, the doctor had a propensity to diagnose certain illnesses, with a disproportionate number of patients said to be suffering asthma, despite no previous supporting medical history.
He was also found to be overcharging patients and bypassing accepted payment systems, as well as administering unnecessary intravenous antibiotic medications. These injections were considered “irregular” and “potentially unsafe”.
Doctors have a duty of care to patients, meaning they could face medical negligence claims from the public if this obligation is breached. The HCCC’s purpose is to protect people from the health and safety risks posed by medical practitioners failing to do their jobs.
In this particular case, several patients complained to the HCCC about the doctor’s conduct. One woman, who had spina bifida and various other medical issues, claimed he once refused to help her get up after she fell, instead forcing her to pull herself up using an ironing board.
The courts also heard he often charged far more than standard Australian Medical Association rates for consultations. For example, a two-hour visit to the same woman’s hotel room once cost her $1,040.
Charges deemed “excessive”
The four tribunal panel members agreed that the doctor’s fees were unacceptable, despite the fact he obtained signed cost agreements at the time.
“From our reading of the clinical notes, it is hard to justify consultations of the order of one hour in length on many of these occasions, and it seems that much of the time was taken up in discussions between the respondent and [the patient] about her condition without affording any significant treatment,” they noted.
The doctor was also judged to be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, which led to him avoiding responsibility when complaints were made against him.
He often blamed his patients and had challenging working relationships with many of his supervisors. Due to his mental impairment, the practitioner was found “severely compromised” in his ability to administer medicine and appropriately care for patients.
Therefore, the tribunal will reconvene on April 10 2015 to assess what protective measures need to be put in place to prevent the doctor’s future actions from potentially harming patients.