The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal considered a charge of professional misconduct laid by the Director of Proceedings against Dr H, registered medical practitioner (the Doctor).
Particular 1 of the charge alleged that on four separate occasions when the patient who was over 50 years of age presented with dysphagia and/or continuing weight loss, the Doctor failed to refer the patient for an endoscopy and/or to a specialist. Particular 2 of the charge alleged that the Doctor failed to communicate adequately with the patient to clarify his symptoms.
The Doctor accepted she failed to properly refer the patient to a specialist or for an endoscopy. She believed she was blinkered by her initial diagnosis of gastritis. However, she accepted that by the third consultation a referral for gastroscopy should have been done. There was no admission that this was professional misconduct, simply, that it was negligence at that point not to have made the referral.
The Tribunal found that Particular 1 of the charge was established as professional misconduct, warranting disciplinary sanction. It was satisfied that the failure to refer was negligent from the outset at the first consultation and remained so at each of the successive consultations.
The Tribunal found Particular 2 of the charge not established and that the Doctor had not failed to communicate with the patient as charged.
The Tribunal censured the Doctor and ordered her to pay 30% costs of and incidental to the costs of the Tribunal and the Director of Proceedings amounting to $21,636.
The Tribunal ordered permanent suppression of the Doctor's name and directed publication of its decision and a summary.
The Doctor appealed the decision of the Tribunal to the High Court. The appeal was dismissed H v Director of Proceedings  NZHC 2175