Podiatrist disqualified for transgressing professional boundaries

18 Sep 2020

A tribunal has disqualified a podiatrist for six months for transgressing professional boundaries.

The Podiatry Board of Australia (the Board) referred Mr Phillip Lawson to the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal for professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct in relation to his treatment of a client.

The Board alleged that Mr Lawson engaged:

  • in professional misconduct by transgressing professional boundaries with a client, including by having a sexual relationship with her
  • in professional misconduct by failing to maintain proper and transparent financial commercial dealings by inappropriately billing the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in respect of his treatment of the client
  • in unprofessional conduct by providing podiatry services that were not clinically indicated or justified, and
  • in professional misconduct by failing to maintain accurate or adequate clinical records in respect of his treatment of the client.

There was agreement between the Board and Mr Lawson that he should be reprimanded. However, they disagreed on whether his conduct warranted disqualification from practise, with the Board submitting that Mr Lawson should be disqualified for two years.

On 5 February 2020, the tribunal found Mr Lawson guilty of professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct and disqualified him from practising for six months. He was also reprimanded.

In reaching its determination, the tribunal took into consideration:

  • Mr Lawson’s early admission of the sexual misconduct allegations
  • the he was not currently registered, and had not practised for three years, having surrendered his registration in 2017 when he moved overseas
  • the absence of previous disciplinary history (noting the relatively short time he had practised), and
  • his early undertaking to cease practise.

The full tribunal summary can be found on the Austlii website.

Page reviewed 18/09/2020