20 Feb 2017
A medical practitioner’s registration has been cancelled for professional misconduct after he admitted to sexual contact with a patient.
In December 2013, the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) took immediate action to impose chaperone conditions on Dr Vipin Lal’s registration after receiving a complaint alleging the general practitioner had engaged in sexual contact with a patient during a consultation.
The Board started an investigation and Dr Lal provided an undertaking not to consult with or treat any female patients, followed by a further undertaking in January 2014, in which he agreed to practise subject to chaperone restrictions.
Dr Lal later made a complaint to the Western Australia Police Service, alleging the patient had demanded money from him, and he provided two statements to the police. Police charged the patient with demanding property by oral threats.
The Board referred Dr Lal to the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia (the tribunal) in October 2014 for behaving in a way that constituted professional misconduct. This matter was placed on hold pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings. The patient was acquitted in November 2015 following a district court trial.
During the subsequent tribunal proceedings, Dr Lal admitted to the sexual contact with his patient and agreed that his behaviour constituted professional misconduct.
On 31 January 2017, the tribunal found, among other things, that:
The tribunal found that ‘only cancellation of registration will protect the standing of the profession, and adequately deter Dr Lal and others from the abuse of the position of medical practitioner to sexually and legally exploit their patients’.
The tribunal ordered that Dr Lal’s registration as a medical practitioner be cancelled and disqualified him from applying for registration as a medical practitioner for five years. He also was ordered to pay the Board’s costs.
Reasons for the tribunal’s decision are published on the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia website.