Doctor found guilty over referrals

A DOCTOR who sent a patient off for new age healing treatments such as "esoteric lung massage" has been found guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct.

The patient, a 55-year-old Ballina woman with a persistent cough, consulted thoracic physician Samuel Kim in Goonellabah in 2010.

The Professional Standards Board found that Dr Kim inappropriately referred the patient to esoteric practitioners from the controversial Universal Medicine spiritual healing group, of which he was a member.

During the course of her two-year treatment under Dr Kim, the patient was sent to Universal Medicine for "treatments" such as "chemo washing" through "chakra puncture" and "esoteric lung massage".

The patient made a complaint to the Health Care Complaints Commission, claiming she was not only misdiagnosed but also told she had to go on the lung transplant list. She was also prescribed hormone replacement therapy and put on vitamin B injections.

The HCCC took the complaint before the Professional Standards Committee.

The complaint was proven, with the exception of the innappropriate administration of B12 injections.

Dr Kim accepted his conduct was significantly below the standard to be reasonably expected of a practitioner with his level of training or experience.

He also accepted that his conduct was improper and unethical.

The Committee noted there was no complaint made about Dr Kim's approach to the conventional medical treatment of the patient's lung disease, and was not critical of Dr Kim's interest or training in Universal Medicine, but was critical of his referrals to Universal Medicine practitioners.

The Committee found Dr Kim had not adequately explained the difference between conventional and complementary medicine, stating "every effort must be made by a medical practitioner to make those boundaries clear and ensure that the patient understands the nature of any treatment that is recommended".

In oral evidence, Dr Kim acknowledged he was an advocate for and supporter of Universal Medicine principles.

Read the HCCC findings here.



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