Dr Frank Simonson - Unsatisfactory professional conduct

05 June 2017

The Health Care Complaints Commission prosecuted general practitioner Dr Frank Simonson who held Visiting Medical Officer admitting rights at Bega District Hospital (as it was then known) and Pambula Hospital.  The Commission’s complaint before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal ('Tribunal') concerned Dr Simonson’s clinical care and judgment in four clinical cases in 2013 and 2014 (three at Pambula Hospital and one at Bega District Hospital).  The Commission also alleged that Dr Simonson’s record keeping in those four cases and an additional case breached regulations.

  • Patient A presented to hospital with hiatus hernia and Dr Simonson was called to see him but did not do so for over 24 hours.
  • Patient B  was an 87 year old patient with gastritis who was well known to Dr Simonson.  Patient B passed away during his admission to hospital.
  • Patient C who was in labour at Bega District Hospital was a private obstetric patient of Dr Simonson’s.  Patient C’s baby was delivered by an obstetrician and midwife although Dr Simonson was in the delivery room.
  • Patient E was a seven year old child who presented to hospital with vomiting and abdominal pain.  She continued to complain of pain throughout her admission and on the second day of her admission was transferred to another hospital where she underwent surgery.

Decision

In its decision dated 1 June 2017, the Tribunal found that Dr Simonson failed to:

  • attend on Patient A for over 24 hours when asked, failed to properly review Patient A and formulate and communicate his diagnosis to nursing staff over a period of three days.
  • properly plan, manage and document his not for cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) order for Patient B including by communicating with the patient’s family, recording the patient’s instructions and to have a proper discussion with the patient as to his goals of care.
  • respond to Patient C’s obstetric emergency by taking over the delivery when asked and applying effective supra-pubic pressure to Patient C when requested to by the midwife.
  • have Patient E transferred to a hospital for surgery in appropriate time, failed to communicate his diagnosis to staff, and failed to properly manage her when she fainted.
  • comply with the medical record keeping regulations with respect to all five patients.

The Tribunal found that the above allegations amounted to unsatisfactory professional conduct.   The Tribunal held that the conduct amounted to professional misconduct.


Further Information

The full decision is available at NSW Caselaw. The Tribunal will separately consider what protective orders are necessary after a hearing on 22 June 2017.

For further information, contact the Executive Officer of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 9219 7444 or send an email to media@hccc.nsw.gov.au.

The information in this media release is correct at the time of publication. Orders may change; for example, conditions may no longer apply. For current information regarding the status of a registered health practitioner, including any conditions that currently apply, please check the National Register at www.ahpra.gov.au.