13 Jan 2020
The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal has suspended a general practitioner from Canberra for professional misconduct following his inadequate treatment of a patient.
The patient, known as Patient K, attended a beauty clinic in Canberra on 3 March 2014 to seek treatment for blemishes on her face thought to be due to acne scarring. The beauty clinic was part-owned by Dr Al-Naser. The patient said that she chose the clinic because the (unregistered) clinicians were supervised by a registered medical practitioner.
Patient K saw an unregistered clinician who advised her and prepared a treatment plan. The plan proposed a six-week treatment with one treatment per week followed by review. The treatment proposal was to use a relatively low intensity dual laser, to be followed, if found necessary on review, with a higher intensity laser nominated as an Erbium profractional laser.
Patient K commenced the treatment on 6 March 2014 and spoke to the clinician who had written the treatment plan and another clinician, who was Dr Al-Naser’s co-owner of the clinic. Patient K was treated using the Erbium profractional laser. Dr Al-Naser did not assess the patient prior to the treatment, participate in developing the treatment plan or supervise the treatment.
During and after the treatment Patient K said she was in pain and was concerned about the appearance of her face. She telephoned the clinic later that day to ask about her concerns.
The following day, the patient returned to the clinic and consulted Dr Al-Naser. She also consulted her family doctor.
Patient K lodged a complaint with the Health Services Commissioner of the ACT Human Rights Commission who forwarded it to AHPRA.
The application for disciplinary action filed on behalf of the Board on 29 June 2018 (Application) alleged that Dr Al-Naser had engaged in professional misconduct, or alternatively unprofessional conduct, in relation to his treatment of patient K between 3 and 7 March 2014. In particular, because of his:
The matter proceeded to a hearing on 12–14 December 2018 and 10 January 2019.
There were several conflicts of evidence between Dr Al-Naser and the other part owner of the clinic, and with the patient during the hearing.
On 11 June 2019, the tribunal found the five grounds set out in the Board’s Application were made out. The tribunal also dismissed an earlier application filed on behalf of Dr Al-Naser on 3 December 2018 seeking that the Board’s Application be dismissed.
The matter proceeded to a hearing on 9 August 2019 where the parties made submissions on the characterisation of the conduct and about penalty.
The tribunal handed its decision down on 4 December 2019 and found Dr Al-Naser had engaged in professional misconduct and ordered that his registration be suspended for nine-months starting from 25 December 2019.
The tribunal ordered Dr Al-Naser be suspended for nine-months with additional conditions relating to auditing, monitoring and training when he returns to practice.
In describing the consequences upon characterisation the tribunal commented that ‘lack of insight is a major problem for the respondent and has led to an unenviable rate of recurrence of disciplinary problems’.
The findings and orders are published on the Austlii website.