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Charge Characteristics

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Cited Cases


Decision Number: 97/3C
Practitioner: Dr Joseph Rabidass Sami
Charge Characteristics: Inadequate history
Inadequate advice
Inadequate physical examination
Additional Orders: Doctor granted interim name suppression: 973chearprimin
Doctor not granted permanent name suppression:  973cfindingssuplaw
Denied application for private hearing: 973chearprimin
No written statements of evidence to be circulated to any person except the Tribunal, parties and counsel prior to or in course of hearing:  973chearprimin
Written statement order vacated:  973cfindingslaw
Full Decision: 973cfindingslaw
Penalty Decision: 973cfindingssuplaw



A CAC charged the respondent with professional misconduct or in the alternative with conduct unbecoming a medical practitioner and that conduct reflects adversely on his fitness to practise medicine.

The CAC charged that the respondent's examination of the patient on 23 June 1996 was inadequate in one or more of the following respects:

  1. Failure to obtain an adequate history of the patient, having regard to the concerns expressed by the patient's GPs, and/or the patient's parents.
  2. Failure to conduct an adequate physical examination of the patient.
  3. Failure to give adequate advice to the parents of the patient.



The patient, a sixteen month old baby was examined twice by the patient's GP on 23 June 1996. He was unable to make a definitive diagnosis but was concerned that she might have a serious condition. Following his second examination of the patient, the GP referred her to A & E for assessment. His referral note highlighted symptoms which were consistent with meningitis. He also spoke to the paediatric registrar by telephone. The patient was briefly examined by the respondent, the paediatric registrar at the hospital, and sent home. The patient died the following morning. The cause of death was meningococcal meningitis.



The Tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct.

The Tribunal found Particular 1 was proven. The respondent failed to record the patient's past history of other illnesses or admissions to hospital and family and social history. He should have been aware of the serious concerns that the GP had about the patient. The Tribunal considered that the respondent was under an obligation to do all that was necessary to exclude a diagnosis of meningitis. The Tribunal found the respondent fell well short of the standards expected of a competent paediatric registrar faced with a similar situation.

The Tribunal found Particular 2 was proven. They found the respondent's examination of the patient was seriously flawed and totally inadequate. They noted the briefness of the examination (approx 10 minutes), the absence of any record of the patient's overall appearance, and failure to observe that part of the patient which was covered by a nappy.

The Tribunal found Particular 3 was proven. The respondent should have told the parents what his tentative diagnosis was, discussed other possibilities, and what they should have been on the look out for and what to do if other symptoms developed or the patient's condition deteriorated.

The Tribunal found that the respondent's failing fell well below that reasonably expected of a prudent paediatric registrar and therefore required sanction.



The Tribunal having considered Counsel's submissions imposed the following penalties.

The respondent was, for a period not exceeding three years, to practise medicine only on condition that his competence be reviewed by the Medical Council under Part V of the 1995 Act. The respondent must inform senior staff at his place of employment of the conditions placed on his right to practise. The respondent consented to these conditions.

The respondent was censured, fined $800 (maximum penalty permitted $1000) and ordered to pay 60% of the costs of the inquiry and hearing.