Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal No. 13Med/247D (21 October 2013)
This case concerned an inappropriate examination and the retrospective alteration of clinical notes by a general practitioner. The consumer in this case presented at an afterhours clinic at which the general practitioner, Dr Ravi Tamma, worked. She complained of burning during urination and generalised aching all over her body. The consumer had a history of urinary tract infections and she informed Dr Tamma that she had seen another GP at the afterhours clinic for similar symptoms three weeks earlier. Dr Tamma requested that the consumer lay down on the examination table where he could examine her. He did not offer her a chaperone or ask further questions of her relating to her symptoms and he did not explain the examination he was about to perform.
Dr Tamma started examining the consumer by palpating her stomach. He then asked the consumer to remove her pants and underwear. Dr Tamma pressed and massaged the consumer's legs, around her groin area, and touched her clitoris. After doing so he asked the consumer to remove her upper clothing, when questioned he confirmed that she needed to remove all of her clothing. Dr Tamma did not offer the consumer privacy to undress or a sheet or blanket with which to cover herself. He then examined her armpits before asking her to roll over so that he could check her back.
After the examination the consumer phoned Dr Tamma and confronted him about what had occurred. Dr Tamma subsequently made multiple alterations to his clinical notes which significantly changed the clinical picture.
A charge was brought before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal. Dr Tamma admitted the charge thereby avoiding the need for the Director to call evidence. The Tribunal commented that:
33. A clitoral examination was wholly unjustified in a young woman who presented with the symptoms that this patient is described as having given. The references in the notes to a vaginal discharge were simply a means to try and justify an examination which the doctor knew he should not have conducted.
The Tribunal found professional misconduct to be made out, censured Dr Tamma, and imposed an 18-month suspension from practice as well as conditions on return to practice and costs.
The Tribunal's decision is available at: https://www.hpdt.org.nz/Charge-Details?file=Med13/247D
Last reviewed February 2019