Male doctors more likely to face misconduct action

Male doctors are four times as likely as their female counterparts to face disciplinary action for misconduct, a study by the University of Melbourne shows.

The most common offence was sexual misconduct, which accounted for 24 percent of disciplinary cases before tribunals in five jurisdictions (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and New Zealand) between 2000 and 2009, the study showed.

Obstetrician-gynaecologists and psychiatrists had the highest incidence of disciplinary action, followed by general practitioners, according to the study, which was published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Unethical or illegal prescribing was the second most common offence, while other types of misconduct included missed diagnosis, breach of registration conditions and failure to obtain informed consent. As many as 43 percent of cases ended with the doctor being barred from practice.

“We were surprised that the male-female disparity did not reduce further when adjusted for numbers of doctors and typical working hours,” said the study’s lead author Katie Elkin from the School of Population Health at the University of Melbourne.

“We were also surprised that, in the majority of cases, there was no mention by the tribunal of any physical harm being suffered by the patient concerned.”

Read more at University of Melbourne