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