Dr Shah, a general practitioner, was accused of breaching the
Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia and Queensland Health
Information Policy by accessing his estranged wife's medical
records without her authority.
Dr Shah's actions were found to be inconsistent with the
standard of conduct reasonably expected of him by the public or his
Dr Shah was found to have breached the professional code of
conduct he was required to adhere to in failing to maintain
professional boundaries and protect his estranged wife's right
These proceedings were brought before the Queensland Civil and
Administrative Tribunal (QCAT). Dr Shah was found liable to
sanctions for professional misconduct for inappropriately sending
an email to a treating oncologist, accessing a patient's online
medical records without written approval or reasonable
justification and knowingly making and failing to correct a series
of false statements in submissions to the Australian Health
Practitioners Regulatory Authority. These violations took place
against the backdrop of a marriage breakdown between Dr Shah and
his wife, 'SLC', who was being treated for cancer at the
The allegation of sending an email to the treating oncologist
and accessing computerised medical records of SLC was not contested
by Dr Shah.
However, the allegation with respect to making false and
misleading statements to AHPRA, with an intention to deceive was
disputed. Dr Shah also claimed that his sending of the email and
accessing SLC's computerised records did not constitute
professional misconduct, despite not having written consent to do
so as he was never in a doctor/patient relationship with SLC, and
was rather acting in the role of a concerned husband.
This contention led the Tribunal to determine the 'true
state' of the marital relationship prior to 25 September 2012
(where the alleged misconduct began to occur). If it was not yet in
break-down, Dr Shah could have been acting in his role as
'concerned husband' as alleged. However, the Medical Board
submitted that the state of the marital relationship at all times
after 12 August 2012 made Mr Shah's version of events
unacceptably improbable. The Tribunal found that SLC separated
'physically and emotionally' from Mr Shah on or around 12
August 2012, and as such, Mr Shah's version of events was not
The Tribunal found that Mr Shah "abused his position of
trust and confidence as a doctor and fell short of the standard of
conduct that might be reasonably expected of him by the public or
his professional peers". In doing so, he breached the
professional code of conduct he was required to adhere to in
failing to maintain professional boundaries and protect his
estranged wife's right to privacy.
On the issue of penalty, the Tribunal found that the failure of
a practitioner to be honest with a regulatory authority (in
relation to the false statements made) evidences a "character
flaw" suggestive of an inability to be honest in professional
dealings. Dr Shah's registration was suspended for six months.
There were conditions imposed upon his registration coming back
into effect, including taking a course in ethical decision making
and completing it to a satisfactory standard within six months.
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