16 Sep 2020
A tribunal has disqualified a medical practitioner for 12 months for harassing a fellow health practitioner.
On 12 July 2019, the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) referred Dr Jason Lehr to the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) for professional misconduct.
The Board alleged that Dr Lehr’s conduct fell substantially below the standards reasonably expected of a medical practitioner and that his conduct was also inconsistent with him being a fit and proper person to hold registration in the profession.
In late 2015, Dr Lehr met Dr Y and during the course of their employment, they became friends. In mid-2016, Dr Lehr told Dr Y that he had feeling for her. Dr Y advised Dr Lehr that she did not have the same feelings for him and they subsequently ceased socialising together. Dr Lehr’s harassing messages began in February 2017 and ceased in October 2017. In December 2017, Dr Lehr was charged with stalking and using a carriage service to harass.
On 11 October 2018, Dr Lehr was convicted of the offence of using a carriage service to harass a person, contrary to section 474.17 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) (Criminal Code).
On 14 May 2020, the tribunal found Dr Lehr’s conduct amounted to professional misconduct, reprimanded him and disqualified him from practising as a medical practitioner for 12 months.
The tribunal noted that the conduct occurred over an eight-month period. It was not a one-off lapse of judgement; it was targeted and planned harassment of Dr Y personally via her mobile and publicly via social media. The conduct negatively impacted Dr Y’s ability to engage in and contribute to the medical community, and had significant detrimental impact on her personally and professionally.
In deciding an appropriate sanction, the tribunal noted that it’s role was not to punish but rather to protect the public, protect the reputation of the profession and/or to deter others. In this case the most important of these was general deterrence. ‘Members of the profession are informed by this determination that the conduct of Dr Lehr is not acceptable and that it deserves sanction. This acts as a warning to others to consider the propriety of such conduct.’
Dr Lehr resigned from practice in December 2017 and surrendered his registration in early 2019. He has not sought re-registration since and has expressed that he does not intend to reapply for registration in the future.
You can read the full decision on Austlii.