A Bowen GP has been suspended for two months after slapping a child across the face.
A Bowen GP has been suspended for two months after slapping a child across the face. Contributed

GP suspended after slapping child across the face

A NORTH Queensland GP has been suspended for two months after slapping a child in the face when the five-year-old didn't swallow tablets to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) found that, in slapping the child, Dr David John Levick - a Bowen GP - behaved in a way that constituted professional misconduct.

In the judgement, the allegations constituted two charges against the doctor, namely that the doctor "slapped the child patient across the face" that caused bruising, that he verbally threatened the child, that he stood on the child's bare feet while wearing shoes and that he squeezed the child's cheeks.

On October 14, 2014, Dr Levick was convicted of one count of assault occasioning bodily harm in relation to the slap.

The judgement details the December 12, 2013 incident where Dr Levick attempted for about 50 minutes to teach the child how to swallow the medication.

Dr Levick then placed his shoes on top of the child's feet and "said words to the effect of 'I'm going to wallop you'," the judgement reads.

"The child responded with 'what does that mean?' to which the (doctor) replied 'smack'; he also said words to the effect of 'I'll strap you to the bed and force you to take it', and forcefully squeezed the child's cheeks together with his hand."

When the child threw the medication across the room, Dr Levick slapped the child across the face.

The judgement says the doctor "immediately apologised for his actions" but the next day, after the mother and child left the clinic "crying and in a distressed state", the incident was reported to the Bowen Police Station.

He pleaded guilty to one count of assault occasioning bodily harm in October 2014 and was fined $2500.

However, no conviction was recorded, in a decision that Dr Levick said later led him to inappropriately answer "no" to a question about criminal history in correspondence with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

The Health Ombudsman then pursued a disciplinary referral in the QCAT, which found he had behaved in a manner that constituted professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct.

His registration was suspended for two months, starting from May 2017.

"Dr Levick's conduct during the consultation may be described as an outrageous over-reaction to a trying situation," the judgment, delivered in Brisbane on Wednesday, read.

Health Ombudsman for Queensland Leon Atkinson-MacEwen on Thursday welcomed the decision and said it sent a clear message to health practitioners and to the public that this type of conduct would not be accepted.

"Violence towards any patient is unacceptable behaviour for a health practitioner and the fact that the victim in this particular matter was a child makes it even more concerning," Mr Atkinson-MacEwen said.

"The public rightly have an expectation that they can take their child to see the doctor and not have him or her assaulted.

"This decision should help Queenslanders feel confident that the health and safety of the public is being protected and that complaints about health practitioners will be taken seriously and dealt with in an appropriate manner."

The Medical Board of Australia took immediate action to impose conditions on Dr Levick's registration, including requiring him to use a chaperone when treating any patient under the age of 18 years.

This condition currently remains on Dr Levick's registration.