21 May 2013

Doctor found guilty of misconduct over sexual relationship

9:26 pm on 21 May 2013

The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal has found a medical practitioner guilty of professional misconduct for having a sexual relationship with a former patient.

The doctor, who has interim name suppression, was charged with entering into an inappropriate relationship.

She was also accused of failing to advise the patient's new doctor that his claims of a relationship were true and not delusional.

The doctor admitted the charges, but claimed it did not amount to professional misconduct.

However, the tribunal has ruled that it was sufficiently serious to warrant discipline. It said the patient had a condition likely to confuse his judgement and that, being a doctor, she had influence over him.

The tribunal noted that the man had only very recently become a former patient before the relationship began. It said the doctor's actions amount to malpractice and bring the medical profession into disrepute.

On the charge of failing to admit to the relationship when questioned by the patient's doctor, the tribunal ruled that it did not on its own warrant disciplinary action, but considered together with the other charge, it did warrant such action.

In submissions on a penalty, prosecutor Greg Hollister-Jones on Tuesday asked the tribunal to suspend the doctor for just over two years, censure her and impose a fine.

The doctor's lawyer, Hanne Janes, said a suspension would be unduly harsh, but accepts that censure is inevitable.

Ms Janes asked the tribunal to take into account that the doctor resigned her position and has been in self-suspension for nine months.

The tribunal will decide on penalties in three to four weeks.