28 Aug 2018
The State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia has found a general practitioner had engaged in professional misconduct after practising as a medical practitioner without appropriate professional indemnity insurance (PII) arrangements in place.
Dr Stewart, a specialist general practitioner, was reprimanded, suspended from practising as a medical practitioner for two months, had conditions imposed on his registration requiring he undertake further education and ordered to pay costs of $2,000.
The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) referred the matter to the tribunal, alleging that Dr Stewart had practised as a medical practitioner without appropriate PII arrangements in place during the period 1 July 2015 to 24 July 2016. This was in contravention of the National Law. The Board had suspended the practitioner’s registration during the period 27 July 2016 to 5 September 2016 as interim action until Dr Stewart had arranged suitable PII.
The Board further alleged that from late May 2016 to 20 July 2016, Dr Stewart had practised as a medical practitioner despite becoming aware that his PII cover had lapsed and that he did not have the appropriate insurance arrangements in place, despite being advised by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) that he was not permitted to practise without PII.
Dr Stewart also advised AHPRA that he was not practising as a medical practitioner when he knew, or ought to have known, that this was false and misleading. He also made a number of false declarations that he had complied with his PII responsibilities when submitting online applications for renewal of registration over two renewal periods.
In addition, he failed to comply with a notice issued requiring him to provide details of his PII arrangements and did not notify the Board that he no longer had appropriate PII arrangements in place within seven days of becoming aware of that being the case.
Dr Stewart admitted all the allegations made against him and that he had engaged in professional misconduct. As such, Dr Stewart was reprimanded, suspended from practice for two months and had conditions imposed on his registration that required him to successfully complete a program of education in relation to ethical practice and professional obligations as a medical practitioner.
All registered medical practitioners must ensure they comply with the Board PII registration standard.
Dr Stewart submitted that the lapse in his PII was unintentional, unprecedented and resulted from an administrative error and that he had put safeguards in place to ensure such a lapse does not reoccur. Dr Stewart admitted understanding the seriousness of his conduct and was remorseful for his action.
The decision is published on the tribunal website.