07 Feb 2017
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) has reprimanded a general practitioner, Dr Gershon Cukier, cancelled his registration and disqualified him from re-applying for registration as a medical practitioner for a period of 18 months.
The tribunal’s decision relates to notifications received by the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) in 2013 and 2014 about Dr Cukier’s conduct in relation to two female patients, patient A and patient B, over a period of three years.
The Board took immediate action to protect the public in November 2013 after it received a notification in relation to patient A. The immediate action restricted Dr Cukier’s practice by applying a chaperone condition to his registration. This required Dr Cukier to not consult with any female patient without a chaperone being present for the entire consultation and to ensure that there was a clearly visible sign in the practice waiting room setting out the requirement that a chaperone will be present during consultations with all female patients.
Dr Cukier’s conduct with patient A was also the subject of criminal proceedings in March 2014 at Melbourne’s Magistrates Court. He was found guilty and convicted of two counts of indecent assault, resulting in five months imprisonment, which was suspended for 12 months. While serving a suspended sentence for that offence, the practitioner proceeded to make unwanted contact with another patient – patient B.
In 2015 and 2016 the Board referred allegations to the tribunal concerning patient A and patient B.
The tribunal made the following findings:
- In relation to patient A, in October 2013 Dr Cukier engaged in inappropriate behaviour, including physical conduct of a sexual nature during a medical consultation at his practice (this was the subject of the two counts of indecent assault) and that between October and November 2013 he misused his position to access patient A’s personal information to contact her asking her not to tell anyone what had happened.
- In relation to patient B, in January 2012 Dr Cukier engaged in inappropriate and unwanted physical contact that was of a sexual nature, and that in 2014 he accessed and misused patient B’s personal information – placing pressure on her not to complain about this conduct. It was also found that between October 2011 and November 2014 he prescribed controlled medications to patient B without the necessary permits.
When making its determinations the tribunal rejected submissions for Dr Cukier that the appropriate penalty would be a suspension as well as conditions on his registration requiring education and training. The tribunal accepted the Board’s view this was not appropriate given his lack of insight and remorse and found his conduct was inconsistent with him being a fit and proper person to be registered as a medical practitioner.
The tribunal concluded that ‘We are unable to feel confidence in his future ability to practise that a suspension would indicate: we do not have confidence in his level of insight into his offending, and we retain concerns about remorse given that past expressions of remorse have not prevented him from reoffending.’
On 24 January 2017 the tribunal imposed a ‘global penalty’ for the two notifications that had been referred by the Board and reprimanded the practitioner, finding four counts of professional misconduct and one count of unprofessional conduct against Dr Cukier. The tribunal cancelled Dr Cukier’s registration with effect from 7 March 2017 and disqualified him from re-applying for registration before 7 September 2018.
The practitioner admitted to all allegations and agreed to the tribunal’s findings.
The reasons for the tribunal’s decision will be published on the AustLII website.