A DOCTOR who faked email accounts and hacked colleague's computers to contact a junior doctor that he was infatuated with has been reprimanded and suspended from practising medicine for nearly 18 months.
Dr Dilshan Ariyarathna was working at John Hunter Hospital as a final year registrar in August, 2018, when he started supervising a female junior medical officer. According to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, he became infatuated with her.
They initially had coffee together as colleagues and he greatly enjoyed her company but she didn't want to take the relationship any further. When she was transferred to another hospital in Tamworth, he started emailing her and become preoccupied with her. He created Gmail accounts in the names of four other people to try and elicit information from the woman about whether she had a partner or was dating, sending them to other people including her room mate and a junior medical officer manager.
He used sham HNEH email addresses to receive 53 emails containing invitations to meet people from dating sites, and to join dating sites such as 'Plenty of Fish', 'OkCupid' and 'Bumble'.
In order to send emails from another colleague, whom he suspected had a romantic interest in the woman, he tricked him into thinking he had to collect forms from the Department of Medicine so he could gain access to his computer. He then sent emails to her from him insulting her appearance, and belittling her.
At a hearing, Dr Ariyarathna said he was hoping that if she believed that man was no longer interested in her, he would have a chance of winning her attention and affection. To contact her mother, he bought a new mobile phone and used his own mother's details and passport number so it could not be traced back to him. He hacked the woman's work file to get contact details for her next of kin at a work-based computer under another staff member's name and sent the woman's mother a text saying he was organising a surprise dinner party for her, which the woman's mother thought was genuine. "Great. And is she seeing someone at the moment? I would like to formally invite him'', he asked.
The deception became apparent when the mother mentioned to her daughter that her friend "Alice' had been in contact with her and the woman was puzzled saying she did not know anyone by that name.
Dr Ariyarathna's conduct was of such a serious nature as to constitute professional misconduct due to the fact it was directed at a fellow medical professional, and from the 'privileged position' of being the superviser of a more junior professional.
"It was calculated in a most devious way to bring an ulterior result, and it was carried out deliberately", the tribunal found. But it was unlikely his conduct would be repeated given he had since sought psychiatric help. He was first suspended in January 2019 for almost 18 months. while the Health Care Complaints Commission was seeking an additional period of suspension, the tribunal found that was not warranted.
"The tribunal is mindful that the purpose of disciplinary sanctions is not punishment, rather it is solely protective," it said in its findings handed down this week.
He had also since actively participated in courses relating to responsible communication and to ensure he had a proper knowledge of regulations and procedures regarding workplace behaviour. His treating psychologist also said he had sought assistance and increased his support network, and discussed cultural differences and awareness, personal relationships, gender issues, boundary issues in person life and was continuing to develop those skills.
The doctor, now working in Melbourne, was engaged in 'highly significant and unique medical training' to become dually trained as a Geriatrician and Renal Physician. He was spoken of highly by his mentor, who said he had full insight into the 'inappropriateness' of his behaviour and that is safe to continue to practice.
"Although his behaviour was completely inappropriate and unprofessional this appears to have been a one-off," his mentor said in a letter to the tribunal.
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