Impairment stands

A healthcare practitioner has lost her appeal to be reinstated, with a second consecutive four-year ban imposed due to impairment

A specialist doctor who was struck off the register in 2014, based on a finding of impairment, has had her attempts to regain registration dismissed.

The doctor was working as a specialist endocrinologist in the mid north coast region of New South Wales when she was suspended in 2010, after colleagues expressed concerns about her competence.

She was found to have written a number of letters to various general practitioners that led to concern among some of those general practitioners.

People that lived or owned within her apartment building also shared concerns with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal about her “mental stability”, with one saying the doctor had exhibited increasingly abnormal behaviour while another said she “waged a campaign of harassment and intimidation against him and his wife”.

The doctor denied suffering from any illness or that she had any impairment.

She alleged that the professor who had expressed concerns about her to the Medical Council of New South Wales was involved in a conspiracy and that his comments were “malicious” and “based on professional jealousy”.

The doctor also alleged that her “persistent beliefs” was that there was a conspiracy between the Medical Council, HCCC, her medical receptionist and other practitioners in regard to unauthorised access to her clinical records.

However based on the evidence of an independent psychiatric expert, the Tribunal found the doctor had a serious psychiatric disorder constituting an impairment, namely paranoid disorder.

The disorder “specifically causes impairment in interactions with patients, colleagues and with the community in general”.

In 2014, the doctor’s registration was cancelled with orders that she was unable to apply for re-registration for four years.

This period expired in 2019 and the doctor applied to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for reinstatement.

However the following year, a further four-year preclusion period was imposed on the basis of the absence of any evidence from the doctor demonstrating that she was no longer impaired.

There was no medical evidence that the doctor had received any psychiatric or psychological treatment in the period since the initial hearing, the Tribunal found.

Evidence from a psychiatrist was that she remained impaired, and that she continued to deny that she was impaired.

While the doctor appealed the decision, it was dismissed this month.

The Supreme Court of New South Wales found the Tribunal correctly held that the doctor had provided no evidence to establish that the impairment found by the 2014 Tribunal had resolved or improved, such that she was no longer unfit by reason of impairment.

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