A doctor has faced a tribunal for asking out a female patient during an examination at a sexual health clinic.
A doctor has faced a tribunal for asking out a female patient during an examination at a sexual health clinic.

Junior doctor chatted up patient during sex health test

A JUNIOR doctor who chatted up a female patient, while giving her sexual health tests at a clinic, has been reprimanded for unprofessional conduct.

But a disciplinary tribunal has criticised the years of delays before the disciplinary case was referred for a hearing, saying it caused the doctor stress and anxiety.

A month after the doctor was registered, he was working as a Queensland regional health hospital junior house officer and was sent to work at a sexual health clinic.

In February, 2014, the doctor, then 33, performed a pap smear on a clinic patient, 27, tested her for sexually transmitted diseases and inserted a contraceptive device.

During the consultation, the doctor told the patient he was new to the area and did not have any friends around the city, Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.

The doctor and the patient discussed meeting for a drink that evening and exchanged mobile phone numbers.

After the consultation ended, the doctor texted the patient that he was getting a drink at a local bar and asked if she would like to join him.

They met at a bar that night and after the patient had two or three alcoholic drinks, they walked along an esplanade and the patient kissed the doctor on his cheek.

After going to another bar, the doctor drove her home, the tribunal heard

After they agreed to have a meal the following evening, the patient again kissed the doctor on his cheek, before leaving his car.

They exchanged a series of texts the next day, before the doctor asked if they could move their dinner to a later time.

The patient then told the doctor she did not think it was a good idea to meet again.

The doctor then sent her a text, saying: "Oh … I'm really sad to hear that, I had a lovely time and you're a lot of fun but if that's your choice and I respect it.

"It was really amazing meeting you. Enjoy the rest of your time in Australia."

The tribunal said the patient went to a hospital emergency department a few days later, because she did not want to return to the clinic and see the doctor.

After she told about meeting up with the doctor, his conduct was reported to his regulatory body.

The tribunal said the patient had been vulnerable, as the doctor had performed "intimate examinations" on her.

"The boundary violation resulted in the patient becoming concerned and limiting her subsequent treatment options," the tribunal said.

"Whilst at the lower end of range of seriousness of boundary violations, such type of conduct has the potential to lead to a slippery slope of more significant misconduct."

From March, 2014, the Medical Board imposed supervision and chaperone conditions on the doctor's registration and he could only work in public hospitals.

While the chaperone conditions later were removed, the doctor had to keep a log of female patients.

Although a Health Ombudsman investigation concluded in late 2016, the case was not referred for proceedings until October, 2018, because of a backlog.

The conditions of the doctor's registration were not removed until May, last year, after which the doctor could finally obtain locum positions.

The tribunal said the doctor co-operated with the investigation, made early admissions and expressed regret about his conduct.

The lengthy delays before hearing of the disciplinary case, in October, last year, and the restrictions on the doctor, caused him stress and anxiety, the tribunal said.

The tribunal ordered the doctor's name was not to be made public, deciding it would cause him unnecessary embarrassment, more than six years after the conduct.

Originally published as Junior doc chatted up patient during sex health test