Hamilton doctor faces disciplinary action
A Hamilton doctor currently facing disciplinary action by the medical authorities has been in trouble in the past.
Following three complaints received by the Waikato District Health Board in 2007, the Health Ministry started investigating the medical practice of Dr Suresh Kumar Vatsayayann.
As per the complaints lodged at that time, eight patients had alleged that the General Practitioner (GP) had enrolled them at his clinic without their consent.
The investigating officials had seized his practice enrolment and registration records.
In its ruling, The Professional Conduct Committee of the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal said Dr Vatsayayann used the names of people who had been for a one-off appointment at the clinic, patients’ family members and people who had never been to the clinic.
It found him guilty of professional misconduct, censured and fined him $5000.
He challenged the order in the High Court.
Last fortnight, Dr Vatsayayann was in the news again, this time on more serious charges relating to enrolling a large number of patients without their knowledge, to claim Government funding.
Worse, some of the names belonged to dead people.
According to Health Ministry regulations, registered GPs and doctors get government funding based on the patients enrolled. It is understood that such funding would depend on the area in which the Practice is established, income levels and other factors.
An East Auckland based GP told Indian Newslink that checks and balances were in place to ensure that there was no foul play.
“The Public Health authorities collect details of patients registered with us regularly and these are often checked for accuracy and genuineness. It is difficult to understand how someone can get away with names of people registered without their knowledge or include those who are dead,” he said.
A New Zealand Herald report said that Dr Vatsayayann received $350,000 from the Government by enrolling 45 patients without their knowledge. The publication said the list included some fictitious patients and four dead people.
The Waikato District Health Board has recovered $150,000 from the GP.
Board Chief Executive Craig Climo told the Waikato Times that these patients should not have been enrolled because there were no signed enrolment forms.
“We obtained legal advice some time ago on the options open to us. We have followed that advice including already recovering the monies that we have sought to recover,” he said.
The Herald said former patient Gloria Duncan-Kiriwera gave evidence at the first misconduct hearing.
She said Dr Vatsayayann was very supportive when her 13-year-old daughter died of spina bifida. But her view changed when she found that Mrs Vatsayayann (who had immunised her children) was not a qualified nurse.
“I suppose I am angry now. I cannot believe he let her inject my children. I honestly thought she was a trained nurse,” she said.
According to a Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal ruling, he had also allowed his unqualified wife perform cervical smear tests, give contraceptive injections and vaccinate children.
“The GP breached patient privacy by performing a smear test on a woman while a male patient was in the same room at the same time, separated by only a curtain.”
Dr Vatsayayann denied the allegations, attributing the inclusion of fictitious patients to ‘computer and human error.’
He also denied that he had breached patient privacy, but admitted that his wife was not qualified to perform smear tests on patients.
The GP was an unsuccessful Mayoral candidate for Hamilton in October last year.