Medicare billed by GP for his forbidden sexual affair

A GP had a sexual relationship with a vulnerable patient and claimed their dalliances as 'treatment' on Medicare, threatened to throw acid on her when she tried to end the relationship.

Melbourne doctor Faramarz Foroughi has been banned from practising medicine for six years by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal over his misconduct.

The Medical Board of Australia said Dr Foroughi and a vulnerable woman patient had sexual intercourse at the Sunbury practice where he worked until he stopped treating her in December 2016.

For more than a year, he saw her as his last patient of the day and then billed Medicare for their trysts.

The sexual relationship continued, away from the practise, until September 2019.

A General Practitioner medical clinic
Faramarz Foroughi had sex with his patient for more than a year at the practice where he worked. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

The tribunal heard his patient was particularly vulnerable and suffering psychological distress and difficulties in her marriage. The board submitted that Dr Foroughi's relationship with his patient was characterised by manipulation on his part.

On a number of occasions, when the woman tried to end the relationship and report him to authorities, Dr Foroughi threatened to have her children removed and to have her institutionalised on medical grounds.

He also threatened to transmit HIV to her, to kill her, and to commit suicide.

On another occasion he threatened to throw acid on her, but immediately withdrew that threat and made a declaration of love.

By his own admission, Dr Foroughi said the relationship had caused him to experience "huge personal costs" conceding he had "lost the career to which he has devoted his adult life".

He said medicine remained his passion, but he had not worked as a doctor for almost three years after the board immediately suspended him once they were made aware of his misconduct.

Medicare healthcare cards
Medicare picked up the tab for the forbidden affair that was conducted in his surgery. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

Clearly frustrated by his reluctance to admit to his behaviours, the tribunal led by Jonathon Smithers, said it appeared there was still some way to go before the doctor fully took responsibility for his actions.

"[It took] three years before his position changed to one where he fully accepted all the allegations made against him, including the manipulation, and threats of suicide and violence," Mr Smithers said wrote in his findings.

"It would seem that the provision of the detailed information from the patient in October 2023, which included text messages and transcripts of conversations, led to this acceptance."

Mr Smithers said it was important that the tribunal imposed a period of disqualification that sent a message to the doctor, the profession and the public, that serious consequences follow such "grave ethical transgressions".

Dr Foroughi is banned from providing any health service until he can apply for re-registration in June 2030.

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