Medical Board of Australia - Medical practitioner reprimanded and suspended for failing to obtain patient’s informed consent and making inappropriate comments
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Medical practitioner reprimanded and suspended for failing to obtain patient’s informed consent and making inappropriate comments

05 Jan 2023

A medical practitioner who failed to obtain a patient’s informed consent for an operation and made inappropriate comments has been reprimanded and had their registration suspended by a tribunal.

Dr Suresh John holds specialist registration as an obstetrician and gynecologist.

During a patient consultation in October 2018, Dr John discussed the patient’s concerns about heavy menstrual bleeding. The patient also mentioned a possible prolapse. The patient had been previously treated by Dr John with respect to antenatal care and management of menorrhagia.

In November 2018, the patient attended a private hospital for surgery, including a laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy, to be performed by Dr John.

The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) referred Dr John to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) in April 2020 for allegedly:

  1. performing a vaginal prolapse repair without obtaining the patient's informed consent
  2. making inappropriate comments during post-operative discussions with the patient
  3. failing to make an adequate record of the pre-surgery consultation on 30 October 2018.

At a hearing in November 2022, the tribunal found Dr John had engaged in professional misconduct with respect to allegations one and two; and in unprofessional conduct with respect to allegation 3.

On 2 December 2022, the tribunal ordered that Dr John:

  • be reprimanded
  • have his registration suspended for three months (from 2 December 2022)
  • have conditions on his registration requiring him to attend mentoring for six months after the period of suspension ends.

The tribunal noted that not seeking the patient’s informed consent was ‘a complete breach of contemporary standards and brings the profession into disrepute.’

It observed that Dr John’s comments, including ‘I’ve done a tidy up of you and your husband will be very happy’, demonstrated a complete lack of compassion for his patient, were likely to humiliate and wrongly sexualised the medical treatment she had received.

The tribunal said: ‘There is no place in practice of contemporary medicine for sexualising medical treatment the way Dr John did.’

The tribunal reached its decision on the basis that Dr John performed the surgery to the standard reasonably expected of a practitioner of Dr John’s experience and competence but did not make findings in that regard.

The patient underwent further surgeries with medical practitioners in April and October of 2019 to address the narrowing of her vagina and prolapse.

Read the tribunal’s full decision on AustLII.

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Page reviewed 5/01/2023