GP business deal leads to ethics investigation

A GP who used a patient’s position as a local councillor to attempt to secure local government business has been ordered to complete a medical ethics course.

The NSW Medical Tribunal has also called for the development of a policy on doctor-patient business dealings after finding Sydney solo GP Dr Joseph Nicholas guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct.

According to the tribunal’s judgement, Dr Nicholas first met the councillor as a patient in 2002.

By 2005 Dr Nicholas was close friends with the patient and began lending him money.

Dr Nicholas also formed a company – with the patient’s family a shareholder – to promote Dr Nicholas’s other business, Safety Medical Products (SMP). 

“At the practitioner’s request, the patient used his role as a councillor to propose that Fairfield Council purchase an SMP safety needle and syringe product,” the tribunal found.