Director of Proceedings v Dr H

Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal  615/Med13/264D,  (28 March 2014)

The Director of Proceedings brought a charge against Dr H before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal alleging a breach of sexual boundaries between Dr H and his patient. The Tribunal found the charge of professional misconduct to be made out and cancelled Dr H's registration. Dr H appealed the Tribunal's decision to the High Court which is yet to release its decision.

The Director's case was based on the content of hundreds of text messages sent between Dr H and his patient during the ten-month period covered by the charge. The Director brought evidence that Dr H had made numerous phone calls to his patient's cell phones and landline numbers. Furthermore, the Director proved on the balance of probabilities that Dr H had breached sexual boundaries in the doctor-patient relationship by making sexualised comments to his patient, conversing (including by text message(s)) with his patient regarding his sexual preferences and/or sexual fantasies, propositioning his patient, discussing methods of masturbation with his patient by text message(s) including requesting information from his patient about whether she had finished masturbating, suggesting to his patient that he was masturbating, while in communication with his patient, and engaging in oral sex with his patient.

Dr H defended the charge and claimed that the messages had been intended for his patient's friend whom he believed to share a cell phone with his patient. The Tribunal found that aspects of Dr H's evidence were quite implausible and unreliable. The patient who was found to have been the recipient of the text messages gave evidence under subpoena for the doctor. The patient acknowledged that the cell phones the doctor had been sending messages to were hers, but claimed that she had not had a sexual relationship with the doctor. The patient said that if she received messages of a sexual nature from the doctor she would give the cell phone to her friend. The Tribunal also found the patient's evidence to be unreliable.

The Tribunal viewed Dr H's conduct with severe disapproval and cancelled Dr H's registration to practice medicine. Dr H appealed the Tribunal's decision to the High Court which heard the appeal on 30 July 2014. The High Court is yet to release its decision.

The Tribunal's decision can be found at: https://www.hpdt.org.nz/Charge-Details?file=Med13/264D


Last reviewed February 2019