Doctor ‘learnt his lesson’ on plagiarism

A medical practitioner has been reprimanded and fined after he plagiarised a medical article and falsified an examination results letter

The Medical Board has issued a statement about Dr Bryan Min Han Soh, who was reprimanded and fined $10,000, and conditions placed on his registration, after finding that he engaged in professional misconduct.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found that Dr Soh had engaged in professional misconduct after he plagiarised a medical article, which he referred to in his curriculum vitae.

It referred to an Agreed Statement of Facts and Agreed Determination, which outlined that Dr Soh had claimed authorship of an article which was published in Annals of Medicine and Surgery on 22 March 2017, titled ‘The use of super-selective mesenteric embolization as a first-line management of acute lower-gastrointestinal bleeding’.

The Tribunal noted that this article had been plagiarised from an original article, Super-Selective Mesenteric Embolization Provides Effective Control of Lower GI Bleeding’ published in the Journal of Radiology, Research and Practice on 22 January 2017, authored by Toan Pham, Ian Faragher and others and undertaken by the Colorectal Unit, Department of Surgery, Western Health.

Dr Pham, who was the primary author on the original paper, had sent Dr Soh a draft in August 2014 so that he could consider making a contribution.

While Dr Soh proofread the article, did some minor editing and made minor additions, Dr Pham did not consider that Dr Soh had made a contribution significant enough to be listed as a contributing author on publication.

In March 2017, Dr Soh then used the plagiarised article to gain entry to the Surgical Education and Training in General Surgery program of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, submitting a CV which contained the plagiarised article.

Earlier in March 2017, Dr Soh had been advised by letter that he had failed the RACS Surgical Science Generic Examination.

However he altered the letter, forging a “pass” result, and used it in this application.

Western Health began an investigation into the plagiarism in 2017, and in late June, Dr Soh provided copies of emails between himself and the Journal of Surgery Case Reports which were not true copies of the originals and had been altered. The alterations made it appear that Mr Pham had been copied in to the email, and inserted text into the body of the email.

Western Health issued Dr Soh with a formal warning which would appear on his file for 12 months, and did not renew his contract of employment which was to end in January 2018; and that month, the offer by RACS to undertake SET was withdrawn on the basis that the information in the application was not true.

The Tribunal said that the evidence put forward had demonstrated that Dr Soh had “learnt his lesson” and shown insight into his behaviour.

As well as fining and reprimanding the doctor, it imposed conditions on his registration requiring him to undertake education on ethics, specifically academic integrity and research ethics.

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