Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Psychiatrist disqualified for two years

Psychiatrist disqualified for two years

25 May 2022

A psychiatrist has been reprimanded and disqualified from applying for registration for two years for boundary transgressions and inadequate patient management.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (tribunal) has reprimanded psychiatrist Dr Mark Symons and disqualified him for applying for registration for two years for professional misconduct.

The professional misconduct relates to Dr Symons’s treatment of 10 patients between 2000-2014 that included inappropriate prescribing, inadequate management and poor record keeping, plus boundary transgressions and inappropriate physical and sexual behaviour in relation to one of those patients.

In mid-2015 Dr Symons gave an undertaking to the Medical Board of Australia not to practise and has not practised since. Dr Symons, who is in his late 60s and suffering from a health condition, stated that he is now retired and does not intend to practise medicine. The disqualification period is considered to act as a general deterrence and a specific deterrence. The tribunal said that it intended ‘to signal to the medical profession that serious adverse conseqences will follow conduct of the kind that Dr Symons engaged in so as to deter others from the same conduct, in the interests of maintaining professional standards and public confidence in the profession’. The tribunal rejected submissions made for Dr Symons that his health condition reduced his moral culpability or that there was a causal connection between his health and the offending conduct.

The tribunal said that it took into account Dr Symons’s absence from the profession in determing the length of disqualification and stated that had he not been retired, the length of disqualification would have been significantly longer.

The tribunal found that Dr Symons’s ‘misconduct was of a very serious nature. There were numerous acts or omissions extending over many years that caused grave harm to many patients and persons close to them.’ While Dr Symons is retired and does not intend to practise, the tribunal stated that it wanted to signal to the medical profession the serious adverse consequences that would follow conduct of the kind Dr Symons had engaged in.

The full decision can be found on Austlii.

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Page reviewed 25/05/2022