09 Aug 2018
Mr Marek Jantos has been sentenced in the Adelaide Magistrates Court this week after being convicted of holding himself out as a registered psychologist and unlawfully using a specialist medical title, following charges laid by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
A company operated by Mr Jantos, Behavioural Medicine Institute of Australia, was also convicted of misleading and deceptive advertising.
Mr Jantos and his company were fined a total of $16,000.
Mr Jantos pleaded guilty to two charges which included unlawfully claiming to be a specialist in the field of ‘pain medicine’ and unlawfully claiming to be a registered psychologist. The Behavioural Medicine Institute of Australia pleaded guilty to a charge of false, misleading or deceptive advertising of a regulated health service.
In 2007, Mr Jantos’ registration as a psychologist was cancelled by the then Psychology Board of South Australia. At the time the Board maintained the decision was necessary ‘in order to protect the public from similar behaviour.’ The behaviour considered by the Board included invasive physical therapy in the context of psychological treatment.
AHPRA alleged that between 21 May 2014 and 30 June 2014, Mr Jantos displayed signage at his business premises stating he was a Member of the Australian Psychological Society (MAPS). Mr Jantos has not been a registered psychologist since 25 June 2007 and resigned his membership of MAPS on 6 May 2008. This and other examples of signage at his premises could have falsely led patients to believe he was a registered psychologist.
In addition, AHPRA alleged that between 17 April 2014 and 30 June 2014 Mr Jantos used terminology that would lead patients to believe he was a medical specialist. On a referral form he included the title ‘Dr Marek Jantos PhD’ in conjunction with ‘Chronic Urogenital Pain Clinics’ along with sections to be completed by the ‘Referring Doctor.’ This referral form, along with an advertising placard displayed at the premises advertising pain medicine, indicated that Mr Jantos was qualified as a specialist medical practitioner in the field of pain medicine when he was not.
Mr Jantos’ own website and other websites also misled the public by referring to Mr Jantos using words such as ‘clinician’ and stating ‘his clinical specialty is Behavioural Medicine.’ On one website he was described as ‘one of Australia’s pioneering clinicians in the therapeutic management of female sexual pain disorders.’
AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said the outcome underlines the important role of the law relating to registration of health practitioners to ensure patient safety.
‘Under the National Law, anyone who calls themselves any of the ‘protected titles’, such as ‘medical practitioner’ or ‘psychologist’, including specialist titles, must be registered.. If someone’s registration is cancelled they cannot misrepresent themselves as being a registered health practitioner.
‘This case also shows investigations relating to individuals falsely claiming to be a registered health practitioner can be multifaceted. They can involve multiple professions, in this case medicine and psychology, and offending can occur through a variety of media including physical advertising, internet-related behaviour, and even the printed material and information found in consulting rooms.’
Medical Board of Australia Chair, Dr Joanna Flynn AM and Psychology Board of Australia Chair, Professor Brin Grenyer reflected that this case reaffirms the vital role the public Register of practitioners plays in protecting the public.
‘The online register lets patients check if a doctor is registered and meets Australian standards. It helps them make informed decisions, which improve patient safety,’ Dr Flynn said.
‘Protecting the public is of paramount importance to National Boards. If someone believes that they are being treated by a person who is not registered or who might be misusing a protected title we want to know about it. If a patient cannot find a health practitioner on the register – please think twice about going to see them and let AHPRA know on 1300 419 495,’ Professor Grenyer added.
Make sure you are seeing a registered health practitioner
It is a serious matter if anyone who is not a registered health practitioner claims to be a registered health practitioner or uses titles that are protected under the National Law (e.g. medical practitioner or psychologist). Both are offences and may be prosecuted by AHPRA.
The National Law protects the public by ensuring that only registered health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified are able to use protected titles. The law allows for penalties to be issued by the Court for using protected titles or holding out as a registered practitioner when not entitled to. The maximum penalty which a court may impose per charge is $30,000 (in the case of an individual) or $60,000 (in the case of a body corporate).
It is important that you ensure that the practitioner you are seeing is appropriately registered. Anyone receiving treatment from a person who is claiming to be registered when they are not is a cause for concern. Remember to check the Register of practitioners or you can raise a concern by calling 1300 419 495.
For more information