26 May 2016
The tribunal found that General Practitioner Dr Ajay Naidu has engaged in professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct.
The Health Professional Review Tribunal of the Northern Territory (the tribunal) has found that general practitioner Dr Ajay Naidu, to have engaged in professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct after he failed to understand and maintain professional boundaries.
The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) referred Dr Ajay Naidu to the tribunal in July 2015, after it was alleged he had behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct by failing to maintain professional boundaries with a number of his patients and failing to maintain adequate medical records.
The Board referral stated that Dr Naidu had provided medical care to a patient (Patient A) between May 2008 and 2014. He commenced a sexual relationship with her in April 2009 and continued to treat her as his patient until August 2014. He then also provided medical care to the Patient A’s husband (Patient B) between October 2008 and March 2011. It was Patient B who notified the Board of the conduct of Dr Naidu.
The tribunal also heard that Dr Naidu had provided medical care to Patient A’s children (Patients C and D). Dr Naidu was the biological father of Patients C and D and he had continued to treat them after their paternity was established.
On 27 November 2015, the tribunal found that Dr Naidu had engaged in professional misconduct by having a sexual relationship with Patient A. It also found that there was a breach of trust by Dr Naidu in continuing to treat Patient B while he was having a sexual relationship with Patient B’s wife, which also amounted to professional misconduct. The failure to keep adequate notes and his treatment of Patients C and D were found to amount to unprofessional conduct.
The tribunal noted that Dr Naidu initially did not appear to understand the issues relating to ‘boundary violations’ or that he had breached the Board’s Code of Conduct, Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia. This changed at the hearing in August 2015 when he indicated the allegations would not be contested.
The tribunal determined that Dr Naidu be reprimanded and suspended him from practice for a period of four months commencing 7 December 2015. The tribunal also imposed conditions on Dr Naidu’s registration requiring him to complete a course in medical ethics and a period of mentoring with a Board approved mentor. The conditions will be noted on the register of practitioners. The tribunal also ordered that the practitioner pay the Board’s costs of the proceedings.
The reasons for the tribunal’s decision are published on AustLII.
In February 2016, Dr Naidu appealed the tribunal’s decision to suspend his registration to the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory claiming that the tribunal had made findings in relation to Patient B that were not supported by the evidence. He also argued that the tribunal had incorrectly relied on the Board’s Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia as prescriptive and that the Tribunal had wrongly elevated the objective of providing for the health and safety of the community to a prime consideration.
The appeal was dismissed, upholding the tribunal’s original decision. This resulted in the Board being awarded any additional costs and the date that the suspension was to take effect was updated to 29 February 2016.
The reasons for the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory’s decision are published on AustLII.