ZB

GP censured for assault, threatening to shoot police

Author
Tara Shaskey, Open Justice,
Publish Date
Mon, 13 Jun 2022, 3:22pm
A doctor has been censured after he was convicted of domestic violence. (Photo / Stock Image 123rf)
A doctor has been censured after he was convicted of domestic violence. (Photo / Stock Image 123rf)

GP censured for assault, threatening to shoot police

Author
Tara Shaskey, Open Justice,
Publish Date
Mon, 13 Jun 2022, 3:22pm

A doctor with a criminal history poured alcohol over his wife, ripped open her shirt to prod her torso with a fork while calling her fat, and threatened to shoot police as the incident unfolded.

But the general practitioner, whose name and identifying details are permanently suppressed, is still allowed to practice, a medical authority has ruled.

The woman phoned for an ambulance as the assault escalated when her husband roughly grabbed her arm as she lay on the floor.

The 111 call-taker overheard the doctor threatening to shoot police and to kill his wife.

When officers arrived outside the couple's property during the 2020 assault, they could see through a window the doctor had his hands around the woman's neck.

She was left bruised and scratched, and "emotionally and mentally broken".

Details of the prolonged attack were heard in the District Court and resulted in the doctor being sentenced to 12 months' supervision on two assault charges, and a conviction and discharge on a count of threatening behaviour.

He has three previous convictions for driving with excess blood alcohol (EBA), for which he was on the first sentenced to three months' community detention and disqualified from driving indefinitely on the third.

Following a Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) investigation into those convictions, the doctor was subject to ongoing monitoring by a Health Committee and was seeing a psychologist.

But his latest convictions resulted in his professional conduct coming under the microscope again, with a charge was laid against the man by a PCC of the Medical Council of New Zealand.

And it has since been found his latest offending amounted to professional misconduct in that the conduct was likely to bring discredit to the profession, the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal decision, released today, stated.

It was ruled his convictions reflected adversely on his fitness to practice and the doctor, referred to as Dr D in the decision, has now been censured.

But he is still able to practice, under imposed conditions that for the following three years he must inform his current, and any prospective or future employers of the tribunal's decision.

The decision stated Dr D was working in urgent care at the time of the domestic assault but his employment ended the day after the incident and he voluntarily surrendered his practicing certificate soon after.

He suffered a relapse and began drinking, was living in a caravan and began work as a labourer.

But in 2021, the Health Committee approved Dr D's return to work, subject to a signed agreement, and he is currently employed as a medical practitioner at an unknown practice.

The Health Committee's monitoring began in 2018 for alcohol use disorder and depression, and following the recent offending the committee ordered a psychiatric report to advise of his mental health and alcohol use.

His rehabilitation in relation to alcohol continues, the decision said.

During the recent investigation, Dr D accepted the convictions amounted to professional misconduct and that they were likely to bring discredit to the profession, but he did not accept that they reflected adversely on his fitness to practice.

But the tribunal disagreed.

"Perhaps in a bygone era family violence raised no such questions, but when considering whether these convictions in the 21st Century reflect adversely on a practitioner's fitness to practice, the answer has to be 'yes'," it said.

"It does not mean that the practitioner is not fit to practice, but the tribunal considers such convictions clearly reflect adversely on Dr D's fitness to practice."

Overall, the tribunal said it had endeavoured to impose a penalty that was the least restrictive in the circumstances and supported the doctor's ongoing rehabilitation so he could continue to provide health services to the public.

He was also ordered to pay $11,000 in costs.