In March 2017, Patient A was admitted to hospital reporting difficulty breathing and chest pain. While alone in the X-ray room with Patient A, after making inappropriate comments about her breasts, the radiographer touched and squeezed Patient A’s right breast for about three seconds. The radiographer was stood down from his position the following day.

In August 2017, after pleading guilty, the radiographer was convicted of one count of aggravated indecent assault. The radiographer did not renew his registration when it fell due for renewal in January 2018.

The HCCC alleged that, cumulatively, the radiographer was guilty of professional misconduct for the conduct underlying the conviction and for failing to notify of his conviction pursuant to section 130 of the National Law. The radiographer argued that it was uncharacteristic (having worked as a radiographer for 40 years without complaint with supportive character references) and the result of a combination of exhaustion and ill health (relying on testimonials from his treating GP and wife).

The Tribunal noted that “[w]hilst we accept that [the radiographer] is remorseful and that the incident was out of character [and] [w]hile we accept that the conduct was not deliberate, and likely [the psychiatrist] opined, to have happened at some unconscious level, unless and until [the radiographer] undertakes some form of psychological counselling to assist him to identify the cause(s) or trigger(s) of that conduct and, importantly to develop strategies to guard against it being repeated, we cannot be satisfied that there is no real and material risk of conduct of that type being repeated.”

The Tribunal found the radiologist had engaged in professional misconduct and ordered that, had he still been registered, they would have cancelled his registration and consequently disqualified him from being registered for a period of 12 months.

Health Care Complaints Commission v Sargeant [2019] NSWCATOD 140