15 Jul 2020
A tribunal has reprimanded general practitioner Dr Eiman Al Raheb and imposed conditions on her registration after finding she engaged in professional misconduct in relation to the way in which she operated her home-based clinic.
Dr Al Raheb established a clinic at her home in mid-2015 and operated it until December 2016. Her clinic was closed after the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) received a notification and took immediate action to suspend her registration. That followed a search warrant executed at her home clinic by Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency investigators and the Victoria Police.
The search revealed inappropriate sharps disposal facilities and procedures, inappropriate disposal of medical treatment by-products, dogs entering the consultation and treatment rooms, a non-sterile environment in the medical procedures room, and inadequate sterilisation facilities.
Dr Al Raheb appealed the Board’s decision to take immediate action to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) and then the Supreme Court of Victoria, but was unsuccessful.
The Board referred the matter to the tribunal in March 2019 and the parties agreed for the outcome to be determined on the papers before the tribunal, including an agreed statement in which Dr Al Raheb admitted she:
In doing so, Dr Al Raheb contravened Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia, particularly sections 1.4, Professional values and qualities of doctors; 2.2, Good patient care; 3.14, Personal relationships; 3.4, Confidentiality and privacy, and 8.4.2., Medical records, which notes records must held securely and not be subject to unauthorised access.
The tribunal was satisfied her actions amounted to professional misconduct in line with section 5 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.
In its decision dated 4 June 2020, the tribunal ordered Dr Al Raheb be reprimanded and have conditions imposed on her registration requiring her to work in a multi-doctor practice and not to practise in a home-based clinic. She was required to practise under supervision for 24 months, continue to attend counselling for six months after returning to practice, and put in place appropriate strategies to manage her work-life balance.
In considering its determination, the tribunal took into account the period of more than three years that Dr Raheb’s registration had already been suspended, noting that it would have otherwise imposed a further period of suspension given the serious nature of the matter.
The tribunal noted that no disciplinary findings had been made against Dr Al Raheb before or since the matter at hand, and it considered the severity of her conduct was balanced by the fact her conduct was confined to her home-based clinic. The tribunal considered that Dr Al Raheb’s actions could be reasonably explained by hoarding behaviour and underlying psychological issues.
The decision is available on the AustLII website.