On 28 January 2022, the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (the Tribunal) considered a charge laid by a Professional Conduct Committee against Dr Kul Vant Singh of Auckland, registered medical practitioner (the Doctor).
The Charge set out two aspects of alleged professional misconduct:
- Conviction for sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection
Particulars 1 and 2 of the charge alleged that the conviction amounted to professional misconduct in that it brought or is likely to bring discredit to the medical profession (section 100(1)(b) of the HPCA Act) and/or
Reflects adversely on the practitioner’s fitness to practise as a medical practitioner (section 100(1)(c) of the Act).
- Retrospective amendments to clinical notes
Particulars 3 and 4 of the charge alleged that the practitioner amended the clinical notes of a consultation with a patient RT,
- As a result of a complaint being made by RT to the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) concerning the same consultation
- For the purposes of responding to the HDC’s investigation.
And this, either separately or cumulatively, with the first part of the charge, amounts to professional misconduct in that it has brought, or is likely to bring, discredit to the profession (100(1)(b) of the Act).
The practitioner admitted the charge. The hearing proceeded by way of an audio-visual link (AVL) based on an Agreed Statement of Facts and an Agreed Bundle of Documents.
The patient made a complaint to Police regarding the Doctor’s treatment of her during a medical consultation in December 2017. The Doctor was charged and found guilty of one charge of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection and sentenced to two years and ten months’ imprisonment.
On the day of the consultation, the Doctor made brief clinical notes. One month later he made further clinical notes of the consultation. It is unclear what prompted these additional notes.
On receiving advice of the patient’s complaint to the HDC the practitioner made further modifications and additions to the consultation notes. The amended notes were then provided to the HDC along with the Doctor’s response to the complaint. The amended notes did not show the edits to the notes. After the HDC requested an audit copy of the notes the doctor volunteered there had been amendments and he provided the HDC with an audit report showing the changes and when they had been made.
The practitioner was suspended from practising medicine on 20 December 2019 because of his conviction. He has not been permitted to practise medicine since.
The practitioner denied the offending. However, he acknowledged that under section 47 of the Evidence Act 2006, the conviction is conclusive proof that he committed the offence.
The Tribunal found particulars 1 and 2 of the charge established. The Tribunal stated that unlawful sexual offending by medical practitioners against any victim (especially those who are patients and/or vulnerable), must always be regarded as morally, ethically, and professionally repugnant. The offending must adversely reflect on the practitioner’s fitness to practise and clearly brings discredit to the profession (s100(1)(b) and (c) of the Act).
The Tribunal was satisfied that particulars 3 and 4 of the charge established dishonesty and as a result was professional misconduct that brought or was likely to bring discredit to the profession (s100(1)(b) of the Act).
The conduct as set out in all particulars was a serious departure warranting disciplinary sanction.
- Cancelled the doctor’s registration. The doctor is not permitted to reapply for registration before the expiry of 12 months from the date of cancellation.
- Ordered conditions on the doctor’s practice for a period of three years.
- Censured the doctor.
- Ordered the Doctor to pay costs 30% of the costs totalling $11,011.
The Tribunal directed publication of the decision and a summary.