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Hospital probe after doctor banned

 

The NSW health department has apologised to female patients treated by a now-banned gynaecologist who was found guilty of misconduct.

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal earlier this month found Emil Gayed guilty of misconduct while working at Manning Base Hospital on the NSW mid north coast.

The tribunal also banned him from practising medicine in NSW.

Dr Gayed was accused of failing to diagnose a 10-week pregnancy, telling a patient she had cervical cancer when there was no evidence of malignancy and unnecessarily removing a patient’s right ovary and fallopian tube, NSW Health said in a statement.

NSW Health deputy secretary Nigel Lyons on Monday apologised to some women treated by Dr Gayed who didn’t receive quality and safe care.

The department has launched a review into the oversight of care and safety of patients treated by Dr Gayed at Kempsey District Hospital, Cooma Hospital, Manning Base Hospital and Mona Vale Hospital.

The inquiry, led by Gail Furness SC, will look at the management of complaints and performance issues relating to Dr Gayed.

NSW Health deputy secretary Nigel Lyons says each hospital will make direct contact with any patient who previously raised concerns about the treatment received from the doctor.

“Ensuring our patients receive quality and safe care is our priority and I am very sorry that this has not been the case for some women treated in the past by Dr Gayed,” Dr Lyons said.

“Our focus is on ensuring any woman with concerns about the care she may have received under Dr Gayed is provided with advice and any appropriate follow-up assessment.”

Ms Furness is due to report back to NSW Health with her findings by September 30.

Chaperones scrapped for doctors facing sexual allegations

Doctors will no longer be allowed to practice with a chaperone while they are the subject of an investigation for sexual misconduct.

Instead, practitioners under investigation will be subject to gender-based restrictions, restrictions on patient contact, or will simply have their licence suspended.

The changes follow recommendations from an independent report into the chaperone system, which AHPRA and the Medical Board of Australia have said they will implement in full.

The report, authored by Ron Patterson, a Professor of Law at Auckland University, found the use of chaperones while allegations of sexual misconduct are being investigated or as a protective measure in the disciplinary process “does not meet community expectations and does not always keep patients safe”.

Professor Paterson recommends:

  • No longer using chaperones as an interim restriction while allegations of sexual misconduct are investigated;
  • Establishing a specialist team within AHPRA working with the MBA to improve handling of sexual misconduct complaints;
  • Strengthening monitoring and providing more information to patients in the exceptional cases where chaperone conditions remain in place.

Professor Paterson said that despite the widespread use of chaperones in many countries, “I was left in no doubt that there are better ways to protect and inform patients when allegations of sexual misconduct are made about a health practitioner”.

In a media statement, AHPRA has said it will strengthen its chaperone protocol to reflect all the report’s recommendations.

Dr Joanne Flynn, chair of the Medical Board of Australia, said the report makes a compelling case for change.

“We’ve been told very clearly that the chaperone conditions don’t do the job we need them to do and don’t match current community expectations,” she said. “We are making big changes to the way we deal with concerns about sexual boundary violations.”

The report was commissioned following the case of Melbourne neurologist Dr Andrew Churchyard, who allegedly continued to molest patients while already under investigation and with chaperone conditions on his practice.

In at least one case, Dr Churchyard allegedly molested a patient behind a curtain while a chaperone was present in the room.

There are currently 39 doctors in Australia working with a chaperone restriction, all of whom are in private practice. Chaperone conditions remain in place for an average of almost two years.

Under the current rules, doctors are not obliged to inform their patients that they have restrictions on their practice, although the information is available on the AHPRA registry.

You can read the report here.