13 Sep 2019
A Western Australian general practitioner has been reprimanded and had his registration suspended by a tribunal after he had a sexual relationship with a female patient.
On 28 May 2018, the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) filed an application with the State Administrative Tribunal in Western Australia (the tribunal) alleging Dr James Ayodele Ogundipe had engaged in professional misconduct by having a sexual relationship with a patient who he had treated for general health conditions, depression, anxiety and abuse of methamphetamines and other drugs of addiction.
Dr Ogundipe admitted that he had engaged in sexual intercourse with the patient on one occasion at the patient’s home, had encouraged the patient to attend his church and participate in various church activities, exchanged text messages unrelated to medical treatment over a seven-month period and hugged the patient and told her she was special and like one of his children. Dr Ogundipe also admitted that he had left the patient’s prescription for Seroquel, along with money to fill the prescription, with the patient’s neighbour, who was a recovering addict.
The tribunal found that Dr Ogundipe failed to maintain professional boundaries and acted contrary to the Board’s Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia. Dr Ogundipe conceded that he should have referred the patient to another practitioner for ongoing care, referred the patient to a drug rehabilitation specialist, service provider or hospital, and should have terminated the doctor/patient relationship.
Dr Ogundipe had never been the subject to any notification of a similar nature before and admitted the inappropriateness of his sexual contact with the patient and, showing remorse, accepted responsibility for his conduct. Dr Ogundipe sought professional medical assistance in addressing his behavior.
The tribunal decided to reprimand Dr Ogundipe, suspend him from practising as a medical practitioner from 1 November 2018 for 15 months and ordered him to pay the Board’s costs of $7,000.
Before the tribunal’s final decision was published on 27 May 2019, Dr Ogundipe lodged an application seeking a non-publication order on the grounds of avoiding endangering the mental health or safety of himself and/or his wife. The tribunal accepted that the publication of Dr Ogundipe’s name might cause humiliation, embarrassment and shame to Dr Ogundipe and his family, but that they are inevitable consequences of his behaviour.
The decision is published on the Austlii website.