On 16 April 2019, the Victoria Civil and Administrative Tribunal found a General Practitioner, Dr Yeganeh, guilty of professional misconduct after he engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a patient who also worked as a nurse at his medical practice.

Background Facts

Dr Yeganeh was born in Iran and undertook medical studies in Yugoslavia, completing these in 1997. He moved to Australia in 1999 following the outbreak of war in Yugoslavia. Dr Yeganeh completed his studies in 2005 and was registered as a medical practitioner in Australia. Following his marriage breakdown Dr Yeganeh relocated and commenced full-time practice as a General Practitioner at the practice where the allegations arose in 2014.

The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) alleged Dr Yeganeh had engaged in one count of professional misconduct.

  1. The charge arose from the following conduct:
  2. On 25 July 2016, the patient commenced work as a nurse at the Medical Practice; Between 27 August 2016 and 24 September 2017, the patient attended on Dr Yeganeh in his professional capacity as a general practitioner on 16 separate occasions;
  3. In October 2016 Dr Yeganeh provided the patient with his mobile telephone number and suggested she contact him for coffee;
  4. The two met up at a lake where, in Dr Yeganeh’s car, they hugged and kissed;
  5. Following the December 2016 work Christmas party the two engaged in sexual relations;
  6. The sexual relationship continued until around February 2017;
  7. Following a slight cooling off, the two became friends again, often kissing at the end of consultations; and
  8. Between May and June 2017, while Dr Yeganeh was overseas the two kept in touch using an messaging application.

Dr Yeganeh admitted the conduct alleged with the exception of the allegation that in the course of his consultations he hugged and kissed the patient.

On 26 October 2017, a complaint was made to the Board. Following the complaint a restriction was placed on Dr Yeganeh limiting him to male patients only.

Findings

The Tribunal concluded that there had been a breach of ethics in this case. Counsel for Dr Yeganeh submitted the power imbalance in this instance was not as great as other doctor patient relationships, because the patient was a registered nurse at the practice. The Tribunal did not agree with this submission. The Tribunal found that Dr Yeganeh was no longer a risk to the public, or a risk of reoffending as he had shown remorsefulness and insight into his offending. The Tribunal also noted that the conduct fell to the lower end of the scale, and that Dr Yeganeh must live with the conduct, notification, shame and disclosure of these events to colleagues. Further consideration was also given to the fact that the doctor had complied with his gender-based restrictions for the 17 months since offending.

Orders

The Tribunal made a formal finding that Dr Yeganeh was guilty of professional misconduct and ordered that he be reprimanded. These penalties were agreed by the parties. The gender-based restrictions put in place were also to continue until 1 March 2020 during which period he was required to undergo further education.