Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Failure to hold PII and false declarations lead to professional misconduct finding for chiropractor
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Failure to hold PII and false declarations lead to professional misconduct finding for chiropractor

27 May 2024

A Victorian chiropractor has been reprimanded and had conditions placed on his registration for failing to hold professional indemnity insurance (PII) and recklessly making false declarations to the Chiropractic Board of Australia (Board).

On 9 April 2024 the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Tribunal) found Dr Matthew Gooch engaged in professional misconduct by:

  • practising as a chiropractor between late June 2018 and early December 2019 without having appropriate PII in place
  • recklessly making false declarations about having held PII when renewing his registration in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The Tribunal also found that Dr Gooch engaged in unprofessional conduct by failing to notify the Board within seven days that he no longer had appropriate PII coverage in place, as required under the Health Practitioner National Law.

Dr Gooch’s former insurer stopped offering PII in June 2018, and he failed to notice that the insurance policy he subsequently took up with a new insurer did not include PII coverage. Dr Gooch realised this error and updated his policy to include PII on 9 December 2019, but did not notify the Board that he had practised for a period of approximately 18 months without appropriate PII coverage in place.

The issue was revealed through an Ahpra audit in 2021, during which Dr Gooch disclosed that he did not hold PII between June 2018 and December 2019, despite indicating he had complied with his PII obligations when submitting registration renewals in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The Tribunal described failing to hold PII as a serious matter, referring to previous Tribunal statements in Pharmacy Board of Australia v Elias:

‘The public expects that professionals will hold adequate PII, so that in the event a practitioner’s act or omission causes substantial actionable damage, there is no possibility of the affected person being left unable to recover for their loss.

‘Accordingly, the obligation to hold adequate PII is not merely an administrative or bureaucratic requirement. Practitioners need to be assiduous in ensuring they have cover at all times they are practising.’

All registered chiropractors must ensure they comply with the Board’s PII registration standard.

The Tribunal reprimanded Dr Gooch and placed conditions on his registration, requiring him to advise Ahpra who his PII insurer is and to provide the Board with certificates of currency each year.

Dr Gooch cooperated with the Board’s investigation and has subsequently undertaken an education program in relation to professional ethics.

Read the full decision on the AustLII website.

Page reviewed 27/05/2024