25 Oct 2022
A Victorian podiatrist has been suspended for four months for professional misconduct, after failing to hold professional indemnity insurance (PII), making false declarations and providing false and/or misleading information.
The Podiatry Board of Australia (the Board) referred George Moustakas to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the Tribunal) in June 2021 for failing to hold PII for more than two years; falsely declaring in his registration renewals that he held the insurance; misleading the Board during an audit and the investigation; and failing to notify the Board that he did not hold such insurance.
In handing down its decision, the Tribunal noted that Mr Moustakas was an experienced practitioner, who had been practising for decades, that his conduct was dishonest and repeated and that he had compounded his initial failing to hold PII in ways that were deliberate.
The Tribunal considered Mr Moustakas’ submission that as a podiatrist the risk of harm posed to his patients was small compared with other health professions indicated he did not have proper insight into the seriousness of his failure to maintain PII.
The Tribunal confirmed that the requirement for practitioners to hold PII is for the protection of the public and is of fundamental importance. The Tribunal stated that the Board can only perform its function to protect the public properly when practitioners give frank and honest information, and that deliberately attempting to mislead the Board - or failing to respond in a timely way to inquiries - undermines the Board’s ability to achieve its purposes.
The Tribunal further stated that health practitioners are expected to act with diligence and care when completing declarations.
The Tribunal ordered that Mr Moustakas is reprimanded and suspended from practice for four months. At the end of his suspension, a condition will be imposed that Mr Moustakas must provide evidence annually that he holds PII.
The Tribunal’s full decision is available on Austlii.