An anaesthetist who undertook a clinically unnecessary rectal examination of an anaesthetised patient at the alleged encouragement of the colorectal surgeon performing the procedure was successful in having the suspension of his registration stayed until his appeal against the suspension is heard in full.

Dr Adam Hill’s registration was suspended by the Medical Council of New South Wales on and from 4 March 2019. The suspension followed a complaint that Dr Hill had, at the invitation of the colorectal surgeon, put on a glove and conducted a rectal examination of the patient because it was a “once in a lifetime opportunity to feel” a large tumour believed to be a Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour. The colorectal surgeon was also alleged to have taken photographs of the examination saying he would send it to other anaesthetists. Nursing staff had allegedly asked the practitioner to cease his examination and subsequently made a complaint to the Hospital about the event.   

Dr Hill applied for a stay of the suspension until his appeal against the decision to suspend his registration was heard and determined. He also sought a non-publication order in respect of his name.

The application for a stay was granted. Deputy President Boland, ADCJ was satisfied that the practitioner did not pose a risk to health and safety of the public, that he had reasonable prospects in respect of his appeal and that a suspension or conditions could be imposed if he was unsuccessful in his expedited appeal against the suspension.

Dr Hill was not successful in his application for a non-publication order of his name made on the basis of likely reputational damage. It was not accepted that publication of the practitioner’s name would lead to identification of the patient given that Dr Hill was accredited at 11 hospitals. It was found that there were no special, exceptional or out of the ordinary circumstances which warranted suppression of the practitioner’s name.

To read the decision in Hill v Medical Council of NSW [2019] NSWCATOD 52 click here.