Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Tribunal reprimands and suspends medical practitioner who injured son
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Tribunal reprimands and suspends medical practitioner who injured son

06 Apr 2023

A medical practitioner who injured his son has been reprimanded by a tribunal and had his registration suspended for four months for professional misconduct.

The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) referred the medical practitioner to the Western Australia State Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) in March 2022 following an incident on 9 March 2020 where the practitioner, the father of a 16-year-old male, applied an iron to his son’s leg which resulted in a burn.

The practitioner had attempted several times to rouse his son from bed to get him ready for school, including placing cold packs on his son’s neck and back and spraying him with water. When those attempts failed, the practitioner switched on an iron for about 20 seconds and then applied it to his son’s leg.

The practitioner immediately removed the iron after hearing a sizzling noise and asked to see the burn so he could treat it. However, his son refused, got dressed and was then taken to school by the practitioner. After seeking help for pain while at school, the boy was taken by staff to a medical clinic for treatment.

Western Australia Police arrested the practitioner that evening and he was charged with unlawful assault causing bodily harm. The practitioner was subsequently acquitted of the charge.

The tribunal found the practitioner behaved in a way that constituted professional misconduct and ordered:

  • he be reprimanded
  • his registration be suspended for four months from 8 December 2022, and
  • he pay the board’s costs of $15,500.

The tribunal found the practitioner engaged in professional misconduct in that he:

  • inflicted a physical injury to a minor in his care
  • failed to provide or arrange medical help needed for a minor in his care
  • failed to notify the Board in writing (within seven days) of being charged with a criminal offence as required under the National Law,1 and
  • failed to act in accordance with the Board’s Code of conduct for medical practitioners.

Embarrassed and deeply regretful about what had happened, the practitioner told the tribunal he had taken steps to improve his handling of difficult parenting situations. At the time of the incident, the practitioner had been involved in a protracted and acrimonious matrimonial dispute that had had a significant impact on his mental and physical health, while also having a severe impact on his children.

Read the tribunal’s full decision on the SAT website.

Under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory, registered health practitioners must notify in writing within seven days if charged with or convicted of an offence punishable by 12 months jail or more. See section 130(3) for other events requiring written notice to the Board.

Page reviewed 6/04/2023