Tribunal rejects medical practitioner’s appeal against reprimand and conditions on registration

25 Oct 2019

A tribunal has rejected an appeal by Dr Jane Tolman, a specialist geriatrician, against a panel’s decision to reprimand her and impose 23 conditions on her registration for unsatisfactory professional performance in relation to her treatment of 12 aged care patients.

Allegations concerning Dr Tolman’s conduct at a Hobart hospital were initially reported to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency in June 2013. Following an investigation, the Tasmanian Board of the Medical Board of Australia referred the matter to a Performance and Professional Panel (the panel).

The panel considered nine issues in relation to some or any of 12 aged care patients. The panel considered whether:

  • Dr Tolman’s record keeping and documentation were unsatisfactory
  • her decision making was excessively hasty and not fully considered
  • she failed to adequately discuss, communicate and consult with others
  • she accelerated treatment inappropriately
  • she sanctioned the aggressive and inappropriate use of medications
  • she was too quick to assess patients as lacking decision-making capacity
  • she failed to properly make a diagnosis, or was inflexible in her diagnosis
  • there were diagnostic uncertainties regarding the cessation of antibiotics, and
  • treatment decisions were well founded on medical grounds.

In its decision dated 10 February 2016, the panel found Dr Tolman had practised in a way that constituted unsatisfactory professional performance. In its decision, it referred to Good Medicine Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia, in particular sections 1.4 Professional values and qualities of doctors, 1.6 Substitute decision-makers, 2.0 Providing good care, 3.0 Working with patients, 4.0 Working with other healthcare professionals, 8.4 Medical records and 8.8. Medical reports, certificates and giving evidence.

The panel imposed a reprimand and 23 conditions on Dr Tolman’s registration, requiring her to undergo an education program to be completed within a year. She was ordered to undergo a 12-month mentoring program facilitating up to date knowledge and skills in geriatric care in conjunction with the education program.

Dr Tolman applied to the Tasmanian Health Practitioners Tribunal (the tribunal) for a review of the panel’s decision in March 2016, with the tribunal agreeing to impose a stay on the conditions on her registration in May 2016. The tribunal heard the matter 23 months later in February 2018.

In its decision dated 30 September 2019, the tribunal confirmed the panel’s decision to impose a reprimand and conditions on Dr Tolman’s registration. It found that the reprimand was appropriate given Dr Tolman’s conduct, and conditions requiring the development of a supervised educational plan and a mentoring program were not unwarranted. The stay on the operation of the conditions ordered by the tribunal in 2016 was removed.

The decision is available on the Austlii website.

 
 
Page reviewed 25/10/2019