Dr Carolyn Giselle Cooke – reprimanded and conditions imposed by Medical Tribunal

05 Jul 2012

The Health Care Complaints Commission recently prosecuted a complaint against Dr Carolyn Giselle Cooke, a ‘wholistic’ medical practitioner before the Medical Tribunal of NSW. The prosecution related to Dr Cooke’s treatment of two patients and her unethical conduct in relation to altering clinical notes.

The Commission argued that Dr Cooke was guilty of professional misconduct in that she had:

  • failed to refer a female patient (Patient A) for mammography and fine needle biopsy to investigate a lesion in her breast that was discovered by ultrasound
  • failed to follow the recommendations of a radiologist, and instead referred Patient A for thermography and recommended dietary changes
  • engaged in unethical conduct in deliberately altering Patient A’s clinical notes after receiving notice of a medical negligence claim
  • failed to perform physical examinations on a second female patient (Patient B) despite hardness in the patient’s abdomen and complaints of weight gain and fluid retention

Patient A was later referred for appropriate testing by a different general practitioner and the lesion was found to be malignant.  Patient B underwent a hysterectomy the following year to remove a large fibroid which encompassed most of her uterus.

The Commission also argued that Dr Cooke was not a suitable person to hold registration in the practice of medicine in that she had deliberately altered her clinical notes after receiving a medical negligence claim, and swore a false Statement in Answer to Interrogatories in those civil proceedings.

At the time of the Tribunal hearing Dr Cooke had been suspended for 2½ years by order of the Medical Council. 

Dr Cooke admitted unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct in relation to her treatment of Patient A and her unethical conduct.

In its decision of 29 June 2011, the Tribunal found Dr Cooke guilty of professional misconduct in relation to her treatment of Patient A and unsatisfactory professional conduct in relation to her treatment of Patient B.

The Tribunal ordered that Dr Cooke be reprimanded and placed a number of conditions on her practice, including the she:

  • only practice in a public hospital approved by the Medical Council and under direct or immediate supervision for 12 months
  • undertake re-training as a general practitioner, involving three years of supervised full time training to achieve fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
  • only work in a group practice with at least three other medical practitioners once she has attained RACGP fellowship
  • attend for counselling with an approved psychiatrist.

Further Information

The full decision is available at Medical Council of NSW.

Current conditions on Dr Cooke’s registration can be accessed at the website of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency 

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.