19 Jan 2022
A Western Australian general practitioner has been reprimanded and had conditions placed on his registration for engaging in professional misconduct by sending inappropriate Facebook messenger and Instagram communications to a patient.
On 23 December 2021, the State Administrative Tribunal in Western Australia (the tribunal) found that Dr Ashwin Menon had engaged in professional misconduct in that he made Facebook and Instagram communications with a patient which were not consistent with the Board’s code of conduct, Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia, and the Board’s guidelines, Sexual boundaries in the doctor-patient relationship.
Between 26 January 2021 and 13 February 2021, Dr Menon made several attempts to communicate with a patient over the social media platforms with some of the messages including sexualised and inappropriate comments, often late at night or in the early hours of the morning.
On 11 March 2021, the patient lodged a voluntary notification with Ahpra and on 4 May 2021, the Sexual Boundaries Notifications Committee of the Board (the committee) took immediate action to impose conditions on Dr Menon’s registration. The committee considered suspending Dr Menon’s registration, however decided other restrictions, including prohibiting contact with female patients and practising medicine only at approved locations, would mitigate any further risk to the public.
Dr Menon showed remorse for his actions and admitted that his behaviour was inconsistent with maintaining professional boundaries and amounted to professional misconduct. Dr Menon, at his own initiative, carried out remedial measures including undergoing counselling with a psychologist, completing relevant education courses and reading literature about maintaining professional boundaries and professional ethics. Dr Menon has also stopped using social media.
Dr Menon will be required to be mentored by another registered health practitioner for six months. After this period, Dr Menon will be able to have the conditions reviewed. The conditions restricting him from seeing female patients have been removed from his registration. Dr Menon contributed $4,500 to the Board’s costs of the proceedings.
The tribunal’s decision was published on the eCourts Portal of Western Australia on 23 December 2021.