Medical practitioner disqualified for a serious breach of professional conduct

30 Dec 2019

A Victorian general practitioner has been disqualified from applying for registration for a period of three years and ten months for being convicted of two criminal offences on 10 October 2016, failing to comply with chaperone conditions and engaging in inappropriate billing practices.

On 15 October 2015, the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) imposed chaperone conditions on Dr Dilip Dhillon’s registration, under immediate action provisions, following a notification by the Victorian Police that he had been charged with two counts of committing an indecent act with a child under 16.

The Board’s conditions stated that Dr Dhillon must not be alone with a female employee and he must not consult with a female patient without a chaperone present for the consultation. The chaperone was required to sign a log after each consultation confirming that they were present, and a note was required to be made in the patients’ medical records.

In 2016, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Aphra) became aware that Dr Dhillon might not be complying with the conditions on his registration. Between 26 February and 28 September 2016, he treated 22 female patients without recording in the medical records that a chaperone had been present and/or no log was signed by a chaperone.

During the investigation about the presence of the chaperone, it was also discovered Dr Dhillon had engaged in inappropriate billing practices by claiming Medicare Item 3 for 96 consultations, whether there was no consultation with the patients. Rather, the patients had attended his clinic to collect prescriptions or pathology requests from reception.

On 10 October 2016 Dr Dhillon was convicted in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria of two counts of committing an indecent act with a child under the age of 16.

On 25 September 2017 the Board referred Dr Dhillon to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) alleging he had engaged in professional misconduct.

In relation to the Board’s allegations, Dr Dhillon submitted that he was mistaken as to who could be a chaperone and, in some cases, he forgot to complete the paperwork. In relation to engaging in inappropriate billing practices, he stated that he did not realise that he needed a face-to-face consultation when claiming a consultation fee for a repeat prescription or referral.

He further submitted that he felt a great deal of shame and remorse for his actions.

While acknowledging his remorse and his previous good standing, the tribunal did not accept Dr Dhillon’s explanations for the discrepancies. Ahpra had initially asked for Dr Dhillon’s chaperone logs in October 2015 and noted discrepancies at the time. After a site visit was undertaken in February 2016, Dr Dhillon made a statement on 12 February 2016 that he understood the requirements to comply with the conditions of his registration. The tribunal concluded that Dr Dhillon was therefore aware of what was required of him.

The tribunal also found that after 20 years’ experience practising in Australia he should be aware of the circumstances in which he can claim a consultation fee from Medicare.

On 13 March 2019 the tribunal found that Dr Dhillon had engaged in professional misconduct by:

  • being convicted of two counts of wilfully committing an indecent act with a child under the age of 16
  • failing to comply with chaperone conditions that applied to his registration as a medical practitioner, and
  • engaging in inappropriate billing practices.

The tribunal stated that this was a serious breach of conduct. The tribunal disqualified Dr Dhillon from applying for registration as a medical practitioner for a period of three years and ten months to help protect the public and to protect the integrity of the medical profession.

Dr Dhillon is not currently registered as a medical practitioner because of the tribunal’s order.

The decision is published on the Austlii website.

Page reviewed 30/12/2019