An unregistered doctor who worked for six days in the emergency department of a South Australian hospital repeatedly lied about his registration status and criminal history, investigations have found.
The overseas-trained doctor worked at the Port Augusta Hospital, in the state’s mid-north, between April 24 and May 2, treating at least 15 patients before being removed from the premises.
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Two independent inquiries found the doctor, who was hired as an intern pending the approval of his registration, deliberately misrepresented himself to staff.
Department for Health and Wellbeing chief executive Robyn Lawrence said at no point “did he give truly honest information to the health service” about the risk of his registration being denied because of his previous disciplinary action or criminal history.
While the man was previously registered to work in Australia and overseas, he did not have registration while at working at Port Augusta Hospital.
Lawrence said the doctor did not have login credentials for SA Health’s computer system, but he was able to gain staff access to the hospital because he was on the staff roster.
Department for Health and Wellbeing chief executive Robyn Lawrence said the doctor was preemptively rostered, but wasn’t asked to report for duty. Credit: 7NEWS
She said, although management did not ask the doctor to report for duty, they preemptively put his name on the roster, anticipating his registration would come through at any given time.
“When he fronted to hospital on the day, he accessed a pass by saying ‘I’m on the roster. I’m ready here to start work,’” she said.
The bungle was referred to SA Police, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority and other investigative bodies for further action.
The findings of one investigation found a critical shortage of junior clinicians had prompted officials to accept an application from a “far-from-ideal applicant”.
It said flaws in recruitment and selection methods allowed the doctor to proceed through the process without serious scrutiny, including an internet search of his history.
“These flaws included a lack of critical analysis of (the doctor’s) CV, poor interview planning and technique, failure to critically analyse referees and their reports and a failure to perform timely basic background checks,” the investigation found.
The doctor did not tell Port Augusta hospital some staff members his registration was pending. Credit: 7NEW
The man remains unregistered while the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority investigates the case, Lawrence said.
She declined to comment on the details of the man’s criminal history, but said the medical board was aware of the incidents and they “would not necessarily preclude him from being registered”.
She said the investigation recommendations were being worked through to make sure hiring processes were “as thorough and robust as the public expects them to be”.
One of those recommendation is that Google searches be performed on all prospective SA Health employees.
“There are two schools of thought on a Google search — a lot of what we see when you search Google may or not be true … on the other hand, there are matters that are on the public record where it may be useful,” she said.
Each of the doctor’s patients has been contacted to discuss their care needs and to determine if a follow-up appointment was required.
SA Health has said it was not aware of any adverse clinical outcomes.
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