06 Feb 2018
AHPRA has successfully prosecuted a man in Queensland for unlawful use of the protected title ‘chiropractor’ and holding out as a registered health practitioner.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has successfully prosecuted Mr George Zaphir, from Queensland, for unlawful use of the protected title ‘chiropractor’ and holding out as a registered health practitioner, including chiropractor, medical practitioner and acupuncturist.
Following an investigation, AHPRA filed charges against Mr Zaphir in March 2017 alleging six offences in contravention of sections 113 and 116 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (National Law).
Two charges related to unlawful use of the protected title chiropractor. The additional four charges related to holding out as a registered health practitioner (acupuncturist and chiropractor) and holding out as authorised or qualified to practise as a medical practitioner and as a chiropractor. The charges related to statements made by Mr Zaphir to several people in March 2016, including comments that he was a doctor of integrated medicine and had an 85% success rate in treating cancer. Pretending to be a registered health practitioner (holding out) is an offence under the National Law.
Mr Zaphir was previously registered as a chiropractor from May 1982 to November 2010, when he failed to renew his registration. He has never held registration as a medical practitioner. In August 2016, the Office of the Health Ombudsman issued an Interim Prohibition Order on Mr Zaphir, prohibiting him from providing any health service in a clinical or non-clinical capacity.
Mr Zaphir pleaded guilty to all six charges. At Caboolture Magistrates Court on 30 January 2018, Magistrate Kinsella recorded a conviction in respect of all charges, fined him $12,000 and ordered that he pay AHPRA’s costs of $3,537.17.
In his sentencing remarks, Magistrate Kinsella commented that the key objectives and purpose of the National Law are to protect the public to ensure that only those qualified and registered to provide health services do so. Magistrate Kinsella said that the breach by Mr Zaphir was a serious breach of the National Law and was conduct akin to showing contempt for the National Law.
Chiropractic Board of Australia Chair, Dr Wayne Minter AM, welcomed the court’s decision.
‘To pretend to be a registered health practitioner and make baseless claims to vulnerable people is very serious conduct which may put people at risk,’ Dr Minter said. ‘Together with AHPRA, the Board will continue to seek the strongest possible penalties under the National Law against anyone who falsely claims to be a registered chiropractor.’
Anyone with concerns about the registration status of a person working as a registered health practitioner can check the Register of practitioners (http://www.ahpra.gov.au) or contact AHPRA on 1300 419 495.