26 Oct 2023
A Victorian general practitioner has been found to have engaged in professional misconduct and has, along with other sanctions, had his registration cancelled.
In December 2020, Dr Simon Thompson was charged with assault after he punched a patient in his clinic’s waiting room. In January 2021, on being notified of the charge, the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) took immediate action against Dr Thompson by suspending his registration.
In May 2021, Dr Thompson pleaded guilty to one charge of unlawful assault and the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria fined him $350 without a conviction.
The Board then referred Dr Thompson to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal). The tribunal made a finding of professional misconduct, reprimanded Dr Thompson and cancelled his registration with a disqualification on reapplication for 12 months. If Dr Thompson chooses to seek re-registration, he will have to satisfy the Board that he is a a fit and proper person to hold registration in the profession.
In finding that Dr Thompson had engaged in professional misconduct, the tribunal noted that an assault by a doctor of a patient in a clinical setting clearly constitutes professional misconduct, and that his actions demonstrated a disregard for the Board’s Code of conduct for medical practitioners and the law, with his conduct falling well short of community expectations.
In determining that a reprimand and cancellation of Dr Thompson’s registration was appropriate, the tribunal noted that Dr Thompson’s behaviour posed a substantial risk to the person who he punched, as well as some risk to other patients in the waiting room who saw what happened. The tribunal observed that Dr Thompson had not shown he had meaningful insight into, or remorse for his behaviour; he had not provided information on his personal circumstances, and had not offered an apology. He also indicated at the time of his Magistrate’s Court hearing in May, that he would probably retire if he were to be deregistered.
The tribunal accepted the Board’s submission that a 12-month period of disqualification was appropriate. It noted that the period would ’presumably prove symbolic‘ as it appeared unlikely that Dr Thompson would ever seek re-registration, but that it was appropriate in the cause of general deterrence and maintaining the reputation of the profession.
The tribunal did not consider it necessary to make a broader prohibition order on providing health services generally (as sought by the Board) because the other orders made would achieve general deterrence and safeguard the reputation of the profession.
Read the tribunal’s full decision on AustLII.