August 22, 2008
‘Doctors and Nurses’ Lands GP in Trouble
PLAYING "doctors and nurses" with an employee who was also his patient has resulted in a GP facing prosecution.
In a decision made public yesterday by the Health and Disability Commissioner, the sole practitioner is criticised for his "unethical relationship" with the nurse, whom he first met in September 2004 when he gave her a routine immigration health check.
The doctor, who is not named for privacy reasons, kept in contact with the woman and offered her the job of practice nurse in 2006 after which they were said to have begun an affair.
Medical records show he provided medical services to her several times during their relationship, including supplying an emergency contraceptive and performing a cervical smear examination.
The woman laid an initial complaint with practice management in June 2007 after becoming suspicious that he was also having an affair with the clinic receptionist.
The doctor denies ever having a sexual relationship with the woman, and said that because she was not enrolled with the practice, he did not regard her as a patient.
However, the commissioner said he was plainly acting as her doctor, and taking into account text messages and other evidence, he was satisfied there had been a sexual relationship.
The Medical Council has "zero tolerance" of doctors who breach sexual boundaries with current patients.
"Ms B was vulnerable -- both as an employee and as a patient. It is irrelevant that the sexual relationship was mostly consensual and that Ms B complained only when she became convinced that Dr A was also having a relationship with another member of staff."
The case is now before the Human Rights Review Tribunal but the doctor is also likely to face charges before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.
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