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AHPRA and Board hold ‘commercially predatory exploitative’ chiropractor to account

29 Jun 2017

Keeping the public safe is an absolute priority for the Chiropractic Board of Australia (the Board) and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

The Board has successfully brought disciplinary proceedings against a suspended South Australian chiropractor, Mr Robert Marin, with the South Australian Health Practitioners Tribunal (the tribunal) finding his behaviour was ‘commercially predatory’ and ‘exploitative’.

The Board and AHPRA investigated seven notifications about Mr Marin‘s clinical practice concerning five chiropractic patients and two massage clients and a further seven notifications about his provision of a weight loss program. The investigation also examined Mr Marin‘s use of CCTV in his clinic and routine screening x-rays for 14 children under the age of 12.

In its complaint to the tribunal, the Board alleged that Mr Marin:

  • failed to carry out adequate clinical assessments
  • indiscriminately used plain film x-ray, including for the children, and without clinical justification
  • used x-rays and heart rate variability tests for weight loss patients as a platform to exaggerate the severity of a patient’s condition and promote the need for long term treatment
  • exerted pressure to enter into treatment or the weight loss program with a substantial pre-payment arrangement for his financial benefit
  • provided a service, and products in the case of weight loss patients, which lacked professionalism and individual care and attention, and
  • permitted the CCTV camera in the x-ray room to operate when patients were undressing for x-rays, with the footage then being stored.

The tribunal found Mr Marin’s conduct was substantially below the standard expected of a registered chiropractor and that he is not a fit and proper person to hold registration. It noted that he had been previously disciplined in 2008 and yet repeated similar conduct and breached undertakings he had given to the Board.

The tribunal added, ‘Clearly patients/clients were exploited by being led to believe that they were in a dire straits and required treatment and pressure was put on them to make a pre-payment to cover a year of treatment.’

‘This is yet another example of commercially predatory exploitive behaviour. It was exploitation of desperate people who went to the respondent in good faith,’ stated the tribunal

The tribunal upheld a decision by the Board to take immediate action to suspend Mr Marin registration in June 2015.

Chiropractic Board of Australia Chair Dr Wayne Minter AM said today’s decision was a great outcome for patients.

‘As the regulator of the chiropractic profession in Australia, our purpose is to help keep patients safer. Registered health practitioners must meet national standards and are held to account’, said Dr Minter.

‘The Code of conduct is there is protect patients. This is a case of an individual, exploiting vulnerable patients. The Board is clear that practitioners’ must not exaggerate the seriousness of a patient’s condition. Hearing news that is alarming about the state of your health is difficult even when the circumstances are genuine, but when a practitioner does this without clinical basis and using language that is not factual or appropriate, it is the ultimate example of breaking the patient-practitioner trust. It is exploitative and wrong.’

‘I thank the patients who raise concerns with us about their practitioner and also the vast majority of the registered health practitioner workforce who are doing the right thing by their patients. Together with them, we as the regulator are able to help keep patients safer,’ said Dr Minter.

It is expected that the tribunal will hand down the sanctions relating to this matter in late August 2017.

The tribunal’s decision is available on its website.

Patients and members of the public with concerns about the care they receive from their registered health practitioner can call AHPRA on 1300 419 495.

Note: This outcome was appealed. Read the outcome of the appeal.

Page reviewed 29/06/2017