Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Doctor in sex abuse case found guilty of misconduct

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A doctor who had a sexual relationship with a vulnerable patient, and paid her tens of thousands of dollars to keep quiet about it, has been found guilty of professional misconduct by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

A tribunal hearing held in August also heard allegations he had filmed himself having sex with the woman.

The man, identified only as Dr H, entered into a relationship with his patient - known as Ms Y - in 2008.

During their relationship, Dr H also prescribed an anti-depressant drug to Ms Y without "adequate clinical justification" and discharged her over the phone despite her "personality characteristics and vulnerabilities", the tribunal findings show.

When Ms Y was transferred to another doctor, Dr H continued to engage in a sexual relationship with her.

About six months later, Ms Y approached Dr H with a request for compensation for "injury to her feelings and loss she had suffered" as a result of her actions, the findings show.

Instead of following protocols set out around such complaints, Dr H began paying Ms Y. The payments continued even after she laid a complaint with the Health and Disability Commissioner.

The tribunal also found he had encouraged Ms Y "to mislead the Health and Disability Commissioner about the nature of your relationship", and had emailed Ms Y's father to organise a meeting to discuss her, without her consent.

The payments to Ms Y from Dr H began in mid-February 2009 and stretched over a period of about 18 months.

The largest amount paid in one go was $15,000. In total, Dr H paid her $35,870 - the majority of which was paid after Ms Y had laid a complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner. Dr H had also been advised to stop the payments during the complaint process.

The tribunal said in its findings that Dr H's conduct was serious enough to "warrant discipline for the purposes of protecting the public, maintaining professional standards and punishing the practitioner".

They determined there had been "multiple and severe breaches of standards" over a long period, and called for submissions from counsel of both parties on what the penalty and cost should be.

They have also been asked to provide submissions on the non-publication order currently in place.

- APNZ

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