A snapshot of registered health practitioner misconduct in Victoria: July 2022

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By Stuart Eustice, Partner & Holly White, Lawyer

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia v Stratton [2022] VCAT 727 (30 June 2022)

A registered psychiatric nurse was reprimanded, suspended for three months and had training and mentoring conditions imposed after the Tribunal found she had engaged in professional misconduct. The nurse engaged in an intimate (including sexual) relationship with a highly vulnerable patient and had lied during the course of her employer’s investigation into her conduct. At the time of the hearing, she had retrained and was working as a midwife and the Tribunal concluded she no longer presented a risk. Suspension was ordered for general deterrence.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia v Burns [2022] VCAT 761 (7 July 2022)

A registered nurse was reprimanded, de-registered and disqualified from re-registration for 3 years after the Tribunal found he had engaged in professional misconduct. The nurse plead guilty to charges relating to theft of prescription booklets, the possession of Schedule 4 drugs (Panadeine Forte) and unjustified access to patients’ confidential information. The nurse had about 40 years of unblemished practice and his conduct occurred in the context of an opioid use disorder developed while managing chronic pain. There was no evidence of any patient harm and the medications were obtained for the nurse’s personal use. As the nurse had already retired and was not intending to return to work, suspension was considered inappropriate.

HJO v Medical Board of Australia [2022] VCAT 758 (8 July 2022)

The Medical Board of Australia received multiple notifications regarding a medical practitioner working as a radiology registrar alleging he had sexually harassed six junior female radiographers. The Board took immediate action to suspend the doctor, which had been in place for almost 12 months before the Tribunal proceeding. The doctor commenced proceedings in the Tribunal arguing the suspension should be lifted. The Tribunal agreed with the Board’s opinion that there was a reasonable belief that the doctor posed a serious risk to persons and it was necessary to take immediate action, however amended the immediate action to a serious of supervision requirements rather than suspension.

Medical Board of Australia v Redzepagic [2022] VCAT 838 (26 July 2022)

The Tribunal found a medical practitioner had engaged in professional misconduct by practising in breach of conditions on his registration. The doctor had transgressed professional boundaries by asking former patients to lend him money, and by accepting that money. The Board had imposed conditions requiring supervision and limiting him to general practice however he had subsequently assisted in cardiothoracic surgeries at two private hospitals. The parties will make submissions as to the outcome sought and the Tribunal will make its orders in due course.

Pharmacy Board of Australia v Lee [2022] VCAT 829 (29 July 2022)

A pharmacist was reprimanded and suspended from practice for four months (having not worked since November 2018 in accordance with an undertaking provided when the Board proposed to take immediate action) after the Tribunal found she had engaged in professional misconduct by self-prescribing schedule 4 drugs, breaching cold chain procedure, causing dispensing errors and the inappropriate storage of schedule 8 drugs. She had also failed to meet practice requirements and provided inaccurate information when renewing her registration.

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