Tribunal cancels medical practitioner’s registration after finding four counts of professional misconduct

22 Mar 2017

A tribunal has reprimanded a medical practitioner, cancelled his registration and disqualified him from reapplying for registration for 18 months.

The Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal (the tribunal) has reprimanded a medical practitioner, Dr Hassan Shamkhi Jabbar Alkazali, cancelled his registration with effect from 1 May 2017 and disqualified him from reapplying for registration for 18 months after he was found to have engaged in professional misconduct.

The tribunal also recommended that, during the period of 12 months prior to any future application by Dr Alkazali for registration as a health practitioner, he completes counselling and a program of education in relation to maintaining professional boundaries. Further, in the event that Dr Alkazali is re-registered, his registration will include conditions that he submits to an audit of his practice and that he must not have any non-clinical communications with any patient.

The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) referred the matter to the tribunal on the grounds that Dr Alkazali had behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct. The Board’s allegations included that Dr Alkazali had:

  • Disregarded professional boundaries in making comments to his patient, and sending text messages to his patient, which were inappropriate and/or sexual in nature.
  • Inappropriately advised and/or offered to advise his patient about how to could improve her prospects of obtaining a disability pension and what to say to a psychologist in order to obtain a favourable specialist psychological report that would be supportive of an application for a disability pension.
  • Attempted to deceive and/or mislead the Board and/or AHPRA about the nature of the text messages he had sent the patient.

The tribunal made orders which included a finding that Dr Alkazali had engaged in professional misconduct in relation to each of the allegations made against him. It found that by his conduct, Dr Alkazali had demonstrated:

  • serious deficiencies in his understanding of and compliance with appropriate professional boundaries
  • a significant disregard for his professional responsibilities towards his fellow health practitioners
  • a contempt for the impact upon his patient for false allegations made about her, and
  • a contempt for his obligations toward the regulating authority.

The tribunal rejected Dr Alkazali's explanation that the communications were in the nature of a joke and determined that his conduct amounted to serious breaches of the Board’s 'Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia' and 'Sexual Boundaries: Guidelines for doctors'.

The tribunal concluded that an 18 month period of cancellation is necessary to protect the public and maintain appropriate professional standards and the integrity of the medical profession, having particular regard to Dr Alkazali’s demonstrable lack of insight and genuine remorse, the serious nature and gravity of his offending conduct, his propensity to minimise and even trivialise his conduct and his history of notifications and previous findings by the Board.

In deciding whether to suspend or cancel his registration, the tribunal stated that it had no confidence that Dr Alkazali would be fit to resume practice at the expiration of a period of suspension and considered that he would need to go through the process of persuading the regulator that he is truly reformed.

The reasons for the tribunal’s initial and final determination decisions are available on the AustLII website.

 
 
Page reviewed 22/03/2017