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HDC Case - GP's response to a child's behaviour during a consultation

Source: Health and Disability Commissioner

Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill today released a report finding a general practitioner (GP) in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights for inflicting physical contact on a two-year old child’s face during a consultation.

The child, who was with his mother, saw the GP at a medical centre. During the consultation, the child was tired, restless, wriggling, and became upset. After the child kicked the GP, the GP inflicted physical contact on the child’s face using all or part of her hand. The nature of the contact was described as a "slap" by the mother and a "tap" by the GP.

Mr Hill considered that regardless of the precise nature of the physical contact, the GP’s response to the behaviour was inappropriate and disrespectful.

"It would not be unusual for [the GP] to experience irritable or uncooperative young patients when they are unwell. Whilst I do not condone any patient kicking their doctor, I expect appropriate mechanisms to be in place to respond to this, if and when it occurs," Mr Hill said.

"This incident was unwelcome and unprofessional. Further, the act has eroded the trust that [the mother] had in [the GP] as [the child’s] doctor."

Mr Hill noted that the incident appeared to be out of character for the GP, and did not consider this incident to be reflective of her general competence, or to be likely to occur again. The GP has undergone further training and has apologised to the child’s mother. The medical centre has also put in place measures to manage the GP’s workload.

The full report for case 18HDC01905 is available on the HDC website.

 


Last updated : Tuesday, September 01, 2020

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