24 Jan 2019
A specialist obstetrician has been reprimanded, fined $25,000 and had his registration suspended for two months.
He was found to have engaged in professional misconduct during the delivery of a baby.
The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) referred the matter concerning Dr Abhijit Basu to the State Administrative Tribunal in Western Australia (the tribunal) on 10 January 2017. The Board’s allegations related to Dr Basu’s performance during the delivery of a baby in September 2014. The matter was heard in November 2017.
The matter was highly contested with the tribunal having to decide between alternative versions of what transpired during the delivery of the baby. They heard from two expert witnesses as well as from witnesses that had been present during the delivery.
The mother had been admitted under the care of a GP obstetrician for induction of labour as she was five days past her due date. The mother was induced with artificial rupturing of the membranes and the administration of Syntocinon. The GP obstetrician was called when midwifery staff noted decelerations in the fetal heart rate.
The GP obstetrician attended and tried to deliver the baby by vacuum assisted delivery, with seven pulls and then attempted a forceps delivery. As there was insufficient descent of the baby, Dr Basu was called to assist.
Dr Basu attempted a further five traction pulls and another forceps delivery. Eventually, the baby was delivered by caesarean section and has not suffered adverse consequences since the birth.
Concerns about Dr Basu’s performance included that he:
In its decision dated 16 August 2018, the tribunal found Dr Basu’s conduct demonstrated a series of errors constituting professional misconduct. It noted his actions were ‘substantially below the standard reasonably expected of a registered health practitioner of an equivalent level of training or experience’.
In its penalty decision dated 30 October 2018, Dr Basu was reprimanded, fined $25,000, his registration was suspended for two months and he was ordered to pay the Board’s costs.
The tribunal noted deterrence to other practitioners and maintaining public confidence in the profession were extremely important factors in its decision to fine and suspend Dr Basu. It considered that while Dr Basu demonstrated incompetence on the day, he had taken steps to avoid similar circumstances occurring again and there was minimal risk he would repeat such conduct.
The decision provides a great deal of clinical detail and the evidence upon which the tribunal relied upon. It is available on the eCourts portal of Western Australia website.