A WA neurologist has won an appeal against a tribunal verdict of professional misconduct in relation to claims that he overserviced and overcharged in his treatment of an elderly patient with dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Professor Peter Panegyres succeeded in the Supreme Court of WA in having a previous finding of professional misconduct relating to events in 2012-13 substituted with the less serious finding of unprofessional conduct.
A State Administrative Tribunal had previously found him guilty following a complaint from the public trustee over the number and cost of neurological consultations for a man hospitalised at the Joondalup Health Campus, Perth between November 2012 and February 2013.
The Tribunal originally found that the 78 consultations were twice as many as clinically necessary and that the charges of $25,265 were more than twice the recommended AMA guidance fees for the services provided.
In addition to its 2017 verdict of professional misconduct, the tribunal ordered that Dr Panegyres be suspended for six months and pay the Medical Board of Australia costs of $264,400.
However in considering his appeal the Supreme Court judges ruled that the verdict of professional misconduct was not justified, noting that Dr Panegyres did not have any intention to over service or overcharge for financial gain. They said there was no criticism of the quality of care he provided and there was no adverse health outcome for the patient.
Dr Panegyres penalty of suspension was set aside, he received a reprimand and the payment of costs to the Medical Board of Australia was reduced to $111,400.