14 Jul 2017
Medical practitioner reprimanded for failing to properly maintain professional boundaries with a patient.
A medical practitioner has been reprimanded and ordered to pay $10,000 in costs after admitting to behaving in a way that constitutes unprofessional conduct by failing to properly maintain professional boundaries with a patient.
The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) referred allegations against Dr Sugan Appasamy to the State Administrative Tribunal in Western Australia (the tribunal) on 19 October 2016.
During the tribunal proceedings, Dr Appasamy admitted he had engaged in unprofessional conduct including failing to maintain proper professional boundaries when treating a female patient. Dr Appasamy admitted that between 26 October 2013 and 11 April 2014, he made numerous phone calls to the patient on her mobile phone, and between 9 April 2014 and 5 May 2014, he sent her numerous text messages on her mobile phone, including of a personal nature.
The medical practitioner’s conduct was aggravated by the fact he had treated the patient for gynaecological issues and also for depression and counselling for psychological and marital issues.
He also admitted he had acted in breach of the professional boundaries of a registered medical practitioner outlined in the Board’s Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia.
Dr Appasamy submitted to the tribunal that he had carried out voluntary further education in relation to professional boundaries, and that he had no prior disciplinary history. He had already been the subject of chaperone conditions for a three-year period from 16 May 2014 to 22 June 2017 which were imposed as a result of immediate action taken by the Board, and submitted that he had made appropriate admissions of unprofessional conduct. Dr Appasamy added that the investigation and proceedings have been a cause of considerable stress and anxiety.
On 22 June 2017, the tribunal ordered that Dr Appasamy had behaved in a way that constituted unprofessional conduct, that he be reprimanded and pay the Board’s costs of $10,000.
The decision is available on the tribunal’s website.