Tribunal reprimands medical practitioner

02 Mar 2016

The Northern Territory Health Professional Review Tribunal (the Tribunal) has imposed conditions on a specialist general practitioner's registration.

The Northern Territory Health Professional Review Tribunal (the Tribunal) found that Dr Shahin Alam, a specialist general practitioner, engaged in unsatisfactory professional performance in his treatment of two female patients and imposed conditions on his registration.

The allegations related to pre-employment medical assessments of two women. Both women complained to police about the conduct of the examinations, alleging that the doctor touched them inappropriately.

The Northern Territory police charged Dr Alam with gross indecency but these charges were withdrawn in June 2015.
On learning of the police investigation in November 2012 the Board took immediate action as an interim step to protect the public and imposed conditions on Dr Alam’s registration requiring him to have a chaperone present when conducting intimate examinations of women (any examination where the patient’s underwear or bra is removed or moved).

In October 2013, the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) referred Dr Alam to the Tribunal because of its concerns about his treatment of the two patients.

The Tribunal handed down its decision in December 2015.

The Tribunal found that Dr Alam had not communicated properly with the patients about what would be involved in the physical examination and that he had not sought their specific consent before conducting cardio-vascular examinations and testing for inguinal hernias.

Dr Alam maintained that at no time was he motivated by sexual interest and said he had completed the examinations in an appropriate manner.

The Tribunal found Dr Alam, a highly qualified practitioner with many years experience, had behaved in a cavalier and insensitive way in his examination of the patients and not acknowledged the distress he had caused the patients.

The Tribunal imposed conditions on Dr Alam’s registration including requiring him to:

  • Complete, within 12 months, a clinical course of education in women’s health, intimate examinations of women and informed consent
  • receive six months mentoring from an approved general practitioner with a report by the mentor to be submitted to the Board, and
  • have an approved chaperone present when conducting intimate examinations of women until the education and mentoring has been completed.

The Tribunal ordered that Dr Alam is responsible for the costs associated with complying with these conditions.

The Tribunal required the Board to review the conditions after 12 months (or earlier) and decide if they can be changed or lifted.

The Tribunal decision is published on Austlii.

 
 
Page reviewed 2/03/2016