Sexual relationships with patients & professional misconduct

The first decision of the New South Wales Medical Tribunal for 2014 returns to the issue of sexual relationships between doctors and patients.

In Health Care Complaints Commission v Dr Baez [2014] NSWMT 1, there were allegations of sexual misconduct against four women said to have been patients of the former doctor at the time of the asserted acts. Two were complaints of inappropriate touching during procedures and the other two of inappropriate consensual sexual acts. The doctor appears to have been specializing in cosmetic procedures at the time.

There was debate as to whether the Tribunal could or should consider the evidence in relation to other charges when considering any individual charge. The Tribunal determined not to do so, as although each of the allegations involved some sexual conduct and each patient was either young or psychologically vulnerable, there was otherwise nothing similar in the type of alleged sexual conduct.

Three of the four allegations were found proven to the necessary standard and findings of professional misconduct made. Protective orders were made at a later date.

The same doctor appears to have been the subject of criminal charges in 2007, but those charges were reported as having been abandoned.