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Failure to Maintain Professional Competence is a Costly Affair (Case Study)

It is a legal requirement for all doctors registered with the Medical Council to maintain professional competence. Failure to do so can result in a fine.

A doctor was the subject of an annual audit by the Medical Council which commenced in November 2012. She was requested to provide evidence that she was enrolled in a professional competence scheme and that she had completed the requisite number of CPD hours and clinical audit. This required her to submit a statement of participation from her relevant training body showing that she had completed 50 hours of CPD for the relevant audit period.

The doctor had not been in a position to complete her CPD for the preceding year due to extenuating family circumstances. The Council accepted this explanation and confirmed that she would be re-audited the following year instead.

The doctor was therefore audited once again in November 2013. However, the doctor failed to respond to the Council’s correspondence regarding the audit despite being contacted by means of letter, email and telephone on numerous occasions, at a variety of postal and email addresses, over the course of a year.

Complaint

As the doctor did not engage with the Council’s audit, she became the subject of a complaint to the Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC) in November 2014.   The PPC is the screening committee who investigate complaints. No response was received by the PPC from the doctor in relation to her failure to engage with the Council’s audit. Therefore, the PPC referred the complaint to an oral Inquiry before a Fitness to Practise Committee in April 2015.

Decision  

The Fitness to Practise Committee, after hearing from the doctor who was present at the Inquiry, found the doctor guilty of failing to submit any supporting documentation and failing to comply with the Council’s requirements when she became the subject of an audit[1]. Furthermore, she was also found guilty of Professional Misconduct as she failed to correspond with, or engage with, the Council at any stage throughout the 2013 audit and subsequent complaints’ process.

The doctor was censured and fined €500 by the Council.

The Medical Council publishes case studies based on fitness to practise inquiries held under the provisions of Part 8 of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007 for the purposes of providing learning outcomes. Names, places and certain facts have accordingly been omitted and/or altered.

 

[1] This amounted to a breach of the Medical Practitioners Act, 2007