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Decision No: 99/52D
Practitioner: Dr Thomas Richard Young
Charge Characteristics: Inappropriate communication
Additional Orders: Complainant granted interim name suppression:
Doctor denied interim name suppression:
Existing name suppression order left standing - complainant effectively granted permanent name suppression:  9952dfindingslaw
Decision: 9952dfindingslaw



The Director of Proceedings charged Dr Thomas Richard Young with professional misconduct. The particulars were as follows:

  1.  He struck a young female patient on her face.
  2. He restrained the said patient by pulling her hair.
  3. He called the said patient a "bitch".
  4. He spoke to the said patient and her support in an unprofessional and inappropriate manner during the consultation in that he intimated that the patient would go blind if he did not remove what was in her eye.
  5. He intimidated the said patient through his words and physical actions specified in particulars 1-4 above.
  6. He failed to apologise within a reasonable time to the said patient for his actions.



On 15 January 1998, the patient attended Dr Young's surgery with sand or silt in her eye requiring treatment. The patient was accompanied by three other people. The patient was in pain and was distressed. The Tribunal held that the patient was difficult, but only in a way that was to be expected for a young person who was in physical pain, and not unreasonably, frightened. Dr Young became frustrated and slapped the patient on her face. It was a slap with an open hand. Then Dr Young took hold of the patient's hair and pulled her head onto the examination table where she had been lying.



Dr Young accepted a finding of professional misconduct was appropriate. He accepted the particulars numbered 1 and 2 and, to that extent 5. He did not accept particulars 3, 4 and 6.

The Tribunal when considering particular 3 concluded that Dr Young did call the patient a "bitch" and it was a verbalisation of the anger and frustration that Dr Young was simultaneously expressing physically. For that reason, the Tribunal held that the use of the word did not significantly alter the gravity of the slap and the pulling of the patient's hair.

The Tribunal when considering particular 4 found Dr Young did use the word "blind" and that it was entirely appropriate that he did. The Tribunal added that he had an obligation to convey to the patient and the people looking after her that the foreign material must be removed from her eye, and removed soon.

The Tribunal when considering particular 6 was satisfied Dr Young did attempt to apologise to the woman he believed was the patient's mother. The Tribunal considered that Dr Young had been genuinely remorseful about his loss of self control, and believed he had taken matters as far as he could with the patient's mother.



The Tribunal ordered that Dr Young be censured for his actions, pay a fine of $6,000 and pay costs of $6,030.28 representing 30% of the costs and expenses of and incidental to the investigation by the Health and Disability Commissioner, the prosecution by the Director of Proceedings, and the hearing by the Tribunal.