17 May 2021
A Western Australian medical practitioner has been suspended for two months for professional misconduct for sending inappropriate Facebook messenger communications to a patient.
On 16 April 2021, the Western Australian State Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) found that Dr Amaar Alkiaat had engaged in professional misconduct in that he made Facebook messenger communications with a patient which were personal and/or sexual in nature and which were not consistent with the Board’s Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia and the Board’s guidelines Sexual boundaries in the doctor-patient relationship. The tribunal also found that Dr Alkiaat used the patient’s personal information for a purpose which was not consistent with the consent provided in relation to the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information.
Dr Alkiaat had been using his Facebook messenger account at home and through a process of syncing data from his mobile phone, the patient’s profile appeared on his Facebook messenger as a suggested connection. Dr Alkiaat clicked on the patient’s name to view her profile and in doing so sent the patient a handwave emoji, starting the Facebook messenger communications.
Dr Alkiaat and the patient exchanged a series of messages; some of these related to the care and treatment Dr Alkiaat provided the patient, and others from Dr Alkiaat were of a personal or sexual nature.
On 12 November 2019 the patient made a notification to Ahpra and, on 2 December 2019, the Sexual Boundaries Notifications Committee took immediate action against Dr Alkiaat by imposing conditions on his registration.
The tribunal suspended Dr Alkiaat’s registration for two months from 23 April 2021. The tribunal also reprimanded him and ordered him to pay a contribution to the Board’s costs of the proceedings.
In determining what it considered to be an appropriate response in this matter, the Board considered the mitigating factors presented by Dr Alkiaat, including that he had cooperated throughout the matter, carried out additional education, mentoring and counselling with a psychologist on his own initiative, and changed his practice to reflect lessons learned as a result of this notification.
The tribunals decision was published on the eCourts Portal of Western Australia website.