Medical practitioners have a duty of care to uphold when dealing with patients and in order to earn professionalism and trust, must maintain this at all times. However, as the below case demonstrates, some medical professionals often breach this duty of care, which can result in further distress for patients who may already be in a vulnerable state.
Background of the case
The respondent was born in 1965 and 53 years of age at the time of proceedings. After graduating from medicine in the Philippines in 1996, he came to Australia to work. He was granted limited registration to work whilst staying in the country. The man practised in a number of locations in the NSW region, and treated multiple patients whose accusations formed the body of the complaint from the Health Care Complaints Commission (the applicant).
First medical negligence complaints
Patient A was seen by the practitioner from August 2015 until July 2016. When she commenced her care she had a history of major depressive order, anxiety and panic attacks, for which she had undergone psychiatric treatment and hospitalisation. She was a single woman who lived on her own, and deemed vulnerable by the court.
The court learned that through the duration of their relationship, the practitioner breached his professional boundaries on multiple occasions. He lacked the sufficient skills to appropriately manage the woman's psychological issues. At numerous times, the practitioner gave the woman money, invited her out and sent more than 400 text messages which were not clinically necessary. These included themes of a sexual nature.
Around the middle of 2015, the practitioner also breached his professional boundaries with Patient B – a woman with a history of alcohol problems. On multiple occasions, the man invited the patient out for lunch, offered her medication free of charge and turned up to her house with a bottle of wine as a gift, despite knowing of her issues.
What did the court decide?
After learning of the man's professional misconduct towards both woman, the court was satisfied that the practitioner had breached his duty of care and was guilty of professional misconduct. The respondent's registration as a medical practitioner was therefore cancelled and he is unable to submit a reinstatement order until after November 2022.
If you feel that a medical professional has been negligent or inappropriate whilst caring for you or a loved one, it's important to speak to expert lawyers to determine your next steps. Get in touch with the medical negligence legal team at Gerard Malouf & Partners to find out more.