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Doctor had sex with patient on the floor and on consultation table

An esteemed doctor who had sex with a patient on the floor and continued a relationship with the woman for years has ended his 45-year career in disgrace.

Nicholas Forgione, 72, of Perth, was working as a general practitioner when he had a sexual relationship with a long-term patient from September 2012 to February 2018.

After talking to Dr Forgione about her unhappy marriage, he told the woman she should leave her husband.

The woman then played some Italian music and asked him to translate it, which he did, then he kissed her.

He then told his patient to get on the floor where they had sex. They also had sex on the consultation table.

Nicholas Forgione was working as a general practitioner when he had a sexual relationship with a patient. Supplied
Camera IconNicholas Forgione was working as a general practitioner when he had a sexual relationship with a patient. Supplied Credit: Supplied

The State Administrative Tribunal found that between March 2013 and December 2019, Dr Forgione exchanged “numerous inappropriate text messages and emails of a sexual and/or inappropriate nature” with the woman.

He also regularly provided her with money in the amounts of between $50 and $700, and paid for goods including groceries, clothes, flights, concert tickets and gifts.

“We find that his conduct was substantially below the standard reasonably expected of a medical practitioner with general and specialist registration of an equivalent level of experience to Dr Forgione,” the tribunal said.

It was also noted that the doctor “persisted” with the relationship for five years.

“This was a very serious transgression of the professional boundaries that doctors are required to maintain to promote a patient’s care and protect both patients and doctors,” the tribunal said.

“The transgression is aggravated by the fact that Dr Forgione continued to treat the patient during the course of their relationship.”

Dr Forgione “persisted” with the relationship for five years. Supplied
Camera IconDr Forgione “persisted” with the relationship for five years. Supplied Credit: Supplied

Dr Forgione was a former director of emergency services at Princess Margaret Hospital and a medical administrator at Royal Perth Hospital.

But in 2019, it emerged an investigation had been launched by the Medical Board of Australia into an allegation of sexual misconduct, then he retired in December that year.

Disciplinary proceedings still continued and this week the tribunal ruled he should be banned from practising for four years. He was also ordered to pay costs of $11,000.

The tribunal noted Dr Forgione was suffering “significant distress” at the time due to his mother falling ill and other family issues.

“(He) considers the significant personal stressors he was experiencing at the time contributed to his error of judgment in initiating the sexual relationship,” the tribunal said.

It was accepted Dr Forgione was unlikely to repeat such conduct because he did not intend to return to practise given his poor health, and he had demonstrated remorse.

“It is not appropriate for a medical practitioner to take advantage of the power imbalance that exists in the doctor-patient relationship and exploit a patient sexually,” the tribunal said.

“Sexual misconduct of the kind engaged in by Dr Forgione has the potential to seriously undermine the public’s confidence in the profession and the ability of its members to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with patients.”

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