Court of appeal upholds Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss doctor’s application for judicial review

02 Dec 2016

The Court of Appeal in Western Australia has dismissed a cardiologist’s appeal of a decision by the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

The Court of Appeal in Western Australia (the Court) has dismissed a cardiologist’s appeal of a decision by the Supreme Court of Western Australia to support a finding of unsatisfactory professional performance by a Performance and Professional Standards Panel (the Panel) established by the Medical Board of Australia (the Board).

In August 2014, the Panel cautioned Dr Keith Victor Woollard for failing to maintain clear, appropriate, accurate and detailed clinical records of his discussions with a patient regarding the risks and potential complications of a coronary angioplasty performed by the doctor in 2011.

In February 2015, Dr Woollard applied for judicial review of this decision to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Panel’s ‘reasons for decision’ were inadequate and/or that there was no evidence to support a finding that he had failed to maintain proper clinical records.

In September 2015, the Supreme Court dismissed Dr Woollard’s application for judicial review. A summary of the Supreme Court’s original decision is available on the Board’s website.

The Court of Appeal found that what was not in dispute was that:

  • Dr Woollard had kept no notes of any discussions with the patient with respect to the associated risks and complications of the surgery, or of the fact that he had provided the patient with documents pertaining to the same; and
  • a medical practitioner of Dr Woollard’s level of training and experience would reasonably be expected to maintain clear, appropriate, accurate and detailed clinical records reporting relevant details and information given to patients.

The Court of Appeal confirmed that the Panel’s reasons were clear – it was Dr Woollard’s failure to record in his clinical notes both his oral communications with the patient regarding the risks and complications of the coronary angioplasty, and the fact that he had provided relevant documentation to the patient, that constituted unsatisfactory professional performance.

Accordingly, the Court of Appeal dismissed Dr Woollard’s appeal and ordered Dr Woollard to pay the Board’s costs.

The Court of Appeal’s decision is published on Austlii.

 
 
Page reviewed 2/12/2016