Medical practitioner’s registration cancelled for sexual contact with patient

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:

  • Dr Lal’s conduct regarding his patient constituted a serious breach of professional boundaries and sexual misconduct
  • Dr Lal’s misleading medical notes regarding the patient and his prolonged course of conduct between November 2013 and April 2015, including the statements he made to the police, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the Board, demonstrated serious, active and continuing dishonesty
  • Dr Lal’s conduct was serious and the imposition of a suspension would not be adequate to protect the standing of the profession in the eyes of the public. Nor would it provide adequate general deterrence, or adequately protect the public, and
  • no penalty short of removal from the register of practitioners was sufficient to mark the disapproval of the conduct, or bring home to Dr Lal, the magnitude of his failings, or adequately protect the public.

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.

 
 
Page reviewed 20/02/2017