A snapshot of registered health practitioner misconduct in Victoria: September – October 2022

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By Stuart Eustice, Partner & Holly White, Lawyer

Podiatry Board of Australia v Moustakas [2022] VCAT 1042 (7 September 2022)

A podiatrist was reprimanded, suspended for four months and had a condition imposed on his registration after the Tribunal found he had engaged in professional misconduct in failing to maintain professional indemnity insurance. The National Law prohibits a registered podiatrist from practicing unless they have appropriate professional indemnity insurance cover. By failing to have appropriate cover, the podiatrist had also made false declarations in his registration renewals, made false declarations in audit checklist documentation and failed to notify the Podiatry Board he no longer had professional indemnity insurance. When seeking a new policy, the podiatrist told his insurer he had held continuous cover, thereby making another false declaration. Lastly, during Ahpra’s investigation the podiatrist also provided false or misleading information in an interview.

 Psychology Board of Australia v Bonola [2022] VCAT 1038 (8 September 2022)

A psychologist was reprimanded, had her registration cancelled, was disqualified from applying for registration for approximately 1 year and has been prohibited from providing any health service involving the provision of mental health, psychological or counselling services until after 31 July 2023 after the Tribunal found she had engaged in professional misconduct. At the time of the hearing, the psychologist had not worked for approximately 3.5 years since her registration was suspended by immediate action during the investigation. The psychologist had breached professional boundaries by engaging in multiple relationships with three related clients, directing one client to amend a referral document to mislead or deceive another practitioner and failing to maintain adequate clinical records.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia v Yabut [2022] VCAT 1075 (19 September 2022)

A nurse who was working in a private hospital in Melbourne focusing on mental health was reprimanded and has his registration cancelled with a two-year disqualification period after the Tribunal found he had engaged in professional misconduct. The nurse had been out of practice since December 2016 due to various factors including a criminal investigation and charges which were later withdrawn and the COVID-19 pandemic. The nurse had engaged in a personal, intimate and sexual relationship with a vulnerable patient for approximately five months and disclosed confidential information regarding other patients and colleagues to that patient. The nurse immediately admitted the relationship to the hospital’s CEO when confronted and co-operated with Ahpra’s investigation.

Pharmacy Board of Australia v Park [2022] VCAT 1095 (20 September 2022)

A pharmacist was reprimanded and had her registration suspended for 9 months with conditions to apply for 18 months after the Tribunal found she had engaged in professional misconduct. The pharmacist is required to undergo education during her period of suspension and upon return to practice, receive treatment from a GP and psychologist or psychiatrist. The pharmacist had not practiced since immediate action was taken to suspend her registration in May 2020. The pharmacist had stolen drugs (including Schedule 4 poisons, namely codeine), money and retail items from her employer and had practiced while under the influence of the stolen drugs. She admitted to her conduct during a random audit and was fully co-operative with Ahpra during the investigation. The pharmacist was self-medicating to treat migraines.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia v Quinney [2022] VCAT 1125 (4 October 2022)

A nurse was reprimanded and had an 18-month disqualification period applied after the Tribunal found he had engaged in professional misconduct. The nurse’s employment was suspended after a nursing student complained to his employer. He had resigned and surrendered his registration in September 2019.The nurse made increasingly sexually suggestive statements, and inappropriately touched, groped and harassed the nursing student, who he was supervising on placement. The events occurred while the nurse and nursing student were alone in a parked car in nature reserves or parking areas unfamiliar to the nursing student in various locations in regional Victoria while on lunch break and/or driving to patients’ homes. No other complaints had been made about the nurse over his more than 45 years of practice.

 

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