18 Nov 2015
A tribunal has suspended a doctor’s registration for six months, ordered him to never again see female patients and found that he engaged in both professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct.
The Medical Board of Australia referred Dr Rene Gomez, a general practitioner, to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal for sexual boundary violations and breaches of undertakings.
The Board alleged, and Dr Gomez admitted, that he had behaved inappropriately when conducting routine skin-cancer checks on two patients and had breached undertakings he had given the Board in 2010 to have a chaperone present when seeing female patients.
The Board and Dr Gomez agreed that the doctor had:
- touched one patient on the breasts and buttocks in a way that she considered was unnecessary for the performance of the skin check and which was inappropriate and sexual and
- made the other patient bend over a chair (while only wearing underwear) and assume various positions, including getting up on her tippy toes “like a ballerina”. Dr Gomez told the patient numerous times that an internal vaginal examination should be conducted to ensure that she had no skin cancer in the vagina, but the patient refused.
Dr Gomez also conceded he had breached the undertakings he provided to the Board in 2010 by failing to submit a copy of the chaperone register to the Board on five occasions, and on 14 occasions conducting a full skin, breast, genitalia or buttock examination of female patients over the age of 14 years at a skin cancer centre without a female chaperone over the age of 18 years present.
Dr Gomez admitted that his conduct in performing the skin checks on two female patients amounted to professional misconduct and that his conduct in breaching the undertakings amounted to unprofessional conduct.
The Tribunal suspended Dr Gomez’ registration for six months from September 2015 and imposed a permanent condition on his registration that he must not consult, assess, examine or treat any female patient.
The tribunal ordered Dr Gomez to pay the Board’s legal costs.
The reasons for the Tribunal’s decision are available on AustLII.