Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Surgeon banned for two years for inappropriate relationship with a patient
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Surgeon banned for two years for inappropriate relationship with a patient

09 Apr 2024

A surgeon has been reprimanded and disqualified from applying for registration for two years for having an inappropriate relationship with a patient, who later died by suicide.

At a hearing on 13 September 2023, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) found Dr Andrej Grajn conducted an inappropriate personal and sexual relationship with a patient (HBM) between February 2016 and September 2017.

The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) alleged that the relationship began soon after HBM underwent renal transplant surgery in February 2016. Dr Grajn was practising as a transplant surgical fellow at a large urban hospital in Queensland at the time and was part of HBM’s surgical team.

The tribunal accepted evidence from several witnesses who described the inappropriate nature of Dr Grajn and HBM's relationship and linked their relationship to HBM's death by suicide on 12 October 2017.

'It is clear that on the evidence, the tragic death of this very capable and much-loved woman was as a result of severe mental distress in the last months of her life,’ the tribunal stated. ‘It is clear that this distress was in some way connected with her relationship with the respondent.’

Dr Grajn left Australia in February 2017 and was not registered in Australia at the time of the hearing. Dr Grajn denied 'any inappropriate relationship with HBM' but did admit that he and HBM became friends after the surgery.

He stated the 'friendship' was 'as two private adult consenting individuals' and disputed the Board's right to take disciplinary action against him.

In finding the Board's allegation proven, the tribunal was satisfied that Dr Grajn's breach of professional boundaries was both substantially below the standard expected of a registered health practitioner and is conduct that is inconsistent with being a fit and proper person to hold registration. In making this finding, the tribunal accepted the Board's submission that:

'The effect the relationship had on HBM's mental state and [her] tragic death are testament to why professional boundaries between medical practitioners and patients must be maintained.'

The tribunal found Dr Grajn's behaviour was in direct breach of Good medical practice: a Code of conduct for doctors in Australia and Sexual boundaries: guidelines for doctors.

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

Page reviewed 9/04/2024