Christchurch doctor censured, fined for professional misconduct

Physician attacked former employers online using pseudoynm

Christchurch doctor censured, fined for professional misconduct

A doctor in Christchurch has been censured and fined for breaching ethical obligations after he attacked his former employers and colleagues online under a pseudonym.

Between 2017 and 2019, Dr. Preechapon Tovaranonte made several online public posts and comments about former colleagues, employers, and two medical centres.

He also launched a website that had inaccurate and misleading information on his qualifications. It also had two fictional profiles of alleged doctors on its our "Board and Team page."

Alias of 'Paul Tavern' to post reviews

In one of the particulars of the case, Tovaranonte, under the alias "Paul Tavern," posted a Google review against a health centre that recently terminated him where he claimed that there was "no continuity of care" at the centre.

"There must be something intrinsically wrong in this organisation or the higher management," Tovaranonte said in the review in May 2017 as quoted by tribunal documents.

Later in May 2019, Tovaranonte also made a post in the Community Facebook page of another health centre that also just recently terminated him at that time.

Tovaranonte, under the Tavern alias, claimed that he took his sick child to the health centre and was turned down - despite not having any of his family members being patients at that time.

Using the same pseudonym, he also filed a complaint to the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner about the health centre, claiming that it adopted policies for financial gains, among other allegations.

Misleading website, LinkedIn profile

Another particulate in the case involved Tovaranonte's website called "Beyond the Stethoscope," which was initially aimed to provide career advice for doctors considering non-clinical careers.

The website, however, saw a revamp in 2020 that included the profiles of two fictional doctors under the "Board and Team" page.

Tovaranonte's LinkedIn was also put into scrutiny after he falsely claimed there that he had the following qualifications:

  • LLB from the University of Essex
  • LLM from the University of Edinburgh
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Edinburgh Business School

Case of professional misconduct

The Professional Conduct Committee filed a case of professional misconduct against Tovaranonte at the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

Tovaranonte, who did not deny the charge, argued that his actions did not amount to professional conduct.

The tribunal, however, ruled that his actions amounted to malpractice.

"The Tribunal found all four particulars of the charge established as malpractice," it said on a charge detail summary. "The Tribunal held that particulars one, two, and four separately, and all four particulars cumulatively, were established as conduct that has brought or is likely to bring discredit to the medical profession."

As a result, Tovaranonte has been censured, fined with $8,000, and is also ordered to pay $40,000 in costs.

The tribunal also told Tovaranonte to engage with a clinical psychologist at least every three months for a period of three years to address his pattern of professional misconduct and personal difficulties in professional relationships.

The doctor should also engage in professional monitoring, mentoring, and supervision with an approved individual, according to the tribunal. He must also notify his future employers and organisations that will engage with him about the tribunal's decision and its orders.

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