Health Alert (Australia) - 25 November 2013


In This Issue:

- Judgments

- Legislation

- Reports

- Excerpt from JUDGMENTS:

Western Australia -

14 November 2013 - Medical Board of Australia and Dekker [2013] WASAT 182-

The Medical Board of Australia alleged that Doctor (Dr) Leila Dekker could be guilty of "infamous or improper conduct in a professional respect" for not stopping to render assistance after she and another vehicle nearly collided. Dr Dekker did not see the other car crash but heard noise of impact. She drove to the police station and reported the incident and possible crash, believing this to be reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances as she did not have a mobile phone or medical equipment with her. The proceeding was heard 11 and a half years after the incident.

Improper conduct is conduct reasonably regarded as improper by professional colleagues of good repute and competency. Infamous conduct is a higher threshold, being that which would reasonably be regarded as disgraceful or dishonourable. Both can be considered "in pursuit of the practitioner's profession," although outside the course of carrying out medical practice, if there is a sufficiently close nexus.

The State Administrative Tribunal concluded that "because saving human life and healing sick and injured people is a core purpose and ethic of the medical profession...failure by a medical practitioner to make an assessment and render assistance when she is aware that a motor vehicle accident…may have occurred…when the practitioner is physically able to do so would…reasonably be regarded as improper." However, if Dr Dekker had not even reported the incident, her conduct would have been considered infamous. The matter will now proceed to hearing to determine penalty and costs.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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