Tribunal reprimands, fines obstetrician for professional misconduct

13 Jul 2016

A specialist obstetrician has been reprimanded, fined $5,000 and ordered to pay the Board's costs for professional misconduct and unsatisfactory professional performance.

The decision of the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia (the Tribunal) follows the Medical Board of Australia's (the Board) referral of Dr Andre Paul Hugo to the Tribunal in November 2015.

Dr Hugo, who was on call, received a call around 7.00pm that day to attend Rockingham General Hospital. It was the patient’s first pregnancy and she had been admitted earlier in the day at 40 weeks and 3 days following a cardiotocography (CTG) to monitor foetal health. She had two subsequent CTGs.

It was alleged that following a handover from the hospital’s GP obstetrician, Dr Hugo reviewed the three CTGs which highlighted abnormalities including no foetal movement in the last two CTGs. He then performed an unnecessary ultrasound on the patient leading to a delay in delivery, and failed to maintain adequate clinical notes. After Dr Hugo sought further advice, the baby was delivered stillborn by caesarean section shortly after 10.00pm.

The parties settled the matter following a Tribunal mediation hearing, with the Tribunal accepting the orders agreed between the parties as appropriate in its decision on 20 June 2016.

Dr Hugo admitted behaving in a way that constitutes professional misconduct by failing to identify the need to arrange urgent delivery by caesarean after reviewing the three CTGs, in circumstances that included longstanding abnormality.

He agreed the ultrasound was not clinically required, leading to a delay in the caesarean section. He also admitted to failing to maintain adequate clinical notes in relation to his care of the patient, including adequate documentation of his findings, level of concerns regarding the patient’s condition, and rationale for decision-making.

The tribunal ordered:

  • a finding of professional misconduct and unsatisfactory professional performance
  • a reprimand
  • a fine of $5,000, and
  • payment of full Board costs of $3,500

Dr Hugo surrendered his registration shortly after his suspension on 8 December 2015, and as he is not currently registered, the Tribunal was not in a position to impose conditions on his registration. Dr Hugo no longer resides in Australia.

The reasons for the tribunal’s decision will be published on the AustLII website.

 
 
Page reviewed 13/07/2016