ACT News

Sex, drugs and supervision: Canberra doctors under watch

Complaints about ACT surgeons and GPs have risen 66 per cent in three years as public records name several Canberra health professionals with restrictions, reprimands or suspensions. 

Records kept by Australia's health industry watchdog show a total of 166 complaints were made about Canberra medical practitioners in 2013-14, compared to 100 in 2011-12.

These figures did not include complaints about other health professionals, such as dentists or nurses. 

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency records show Belconnen general practitioner Janardhana Naidu Bobba​ has been suspended from practising but, as per AHPRA procedure, no reason for the suspension or details of where complaints originated from have been published. 

Dr Bobba could not be contacted for comment. 

The regulator's website says the Medical Board of Australia could suspend a practitioner's registration if it believed there was serious risk to the health and safety of the public from the practitioner's continued practice and it was necessary to protect the public from that risk.

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Dr Bobba​ had previously been under restrictions while working at the Belconnen Medical Centre.

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In February, The Canberra Times reported the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal reprimanded Dr Nathem Al-Naser, the owner of the Belconnen Medical Centre, after he failed to report a doctor he employed, Maged Khalil, for having a sexual relationship with a patient during Medicare-billed consultations.

Dr Khalil, suspended for a short time in 2013, was now registered to practise with no restrictions and was based in NSW, AHPRA records showed.  

Among the doctors with voluntary restrictions, otherwise known as "undertakings", which still allowed a doctor to practise but under certain limitations to protect the public, was Peter Asirvatham Subramaniam​.

Dr Subramaniam​, whose principal suburb of practice was listed as Deakin, must be supervised for six months by a senior and experienced cardiothoracic surgeon.

He must submit himself to reviews every three months until deemed "fully competent to undertake open cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass, and the establishment and maintenance of cardioplegia", according to AHPRA. 

Dr Subramaniam, who could not be contacted for comment, must not do cardiac surgery as the principal surgeon where that surgery includes or may include or involve open cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass and the establishment and maintenance of cardioplegia.

Cardioplegia means temporarily and deliberately stopping activities related to the heart during cardiac surgery. 

Another doctor with restrictions was Syeda Tazeena Tausif​. 

Last October, The Canberra Times reported Dr Tausif had been suspended but records showed she had since regained her ability to practise after a legal victory in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Investigations of Dr Tausif's​ misconduct revealed she prescribed opioids to patients without proper approval for a period between 2011 and 2012.

Restrictions on Dr Tausif stop her prescribing schedule eight medications unless specifically approved in writing by the Medical Board of Australia or until such time as restrictions were lifted. 

Schedule eight drugs are prescription medicines with additional restrictions to reduce misuse or dependence, according to the ACT Government.

She also was under supervision. 

 "While so restricted, the respondent should not consult with patients with complex pain needs, substance abuse issues or patients who are known to be aggressive or demanding," AHPRA said.

Dr Tausif's​ clinical notes would be subject to one random audit by the medical board and then audits at six-month intervals. 

AHPRA said all restrictions would be lifted from Dr Tausif within two years of the conditions being placed on her.  

She did not comment when contacted. 

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