The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has won a conviction in a new case and sent a clear message to healthcare professionals: having your registration cancelled means you cannot claim to be registered.
Marek Jantos was sentenced in the Adelaide Magistrates Court this week after being convicted of holding himself out as a registered psychologist and unlawfully using a specialist medical title, following charges laid by AHPRA.
A company operated by Mr Jantos, the Behavioural Medicine Institute of Australia, was also convicted of misleading and deceptive advertising.
Mr Jantos and his company were fined a total of $16,000.
Mr Jantos pleaded guilty to two charges, which included unlawfully claiming to be a specialist in the field of “pain medicine” and unlawfully claiming to be a registered psychologist. The Behavioural Medicine Institute of Australia pleaded guilty to a charge of false, misleading or deceptive advertising of a regulated health service.
In 2007, Mr Jantos’ registration as a psychologist was cancelled by the then Psychology Board of South Australia. At the time the Board maintained the decision was necessary “in order to protect the public from similar behavior”. The behaviour considered by the Board included invasive physical therapy in the context of psychological treatment.
AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher says the outcome underlines the important role of the law relating to registration of health practitioners to ensure patient safety.
“Under the National Law, anyone who calls themselves any of the ‘protected titles’, such as ‘medical practitioner’ or ‘psychologist’, including specialist titles, must be registered,” he said. “If someone’s registration is cancelled they cannot misrepresent themselves as being a registered health practitioner.
“This case also shows investigations relating to individuals falsely claiming to be a registered health practitioner can be multifaceted. They can involve multiple professions, in this case medicine and psychology, and offending can occur through a variety of media including physical advertising, internet-related behaviour, and even the printed material and information found in consulting rooms.”
Medical Board of Australia Chair Dr Joanna Flynn and Psychology Board of Australia Chair Professor Brin Grenyer reflect that this case reaffirms the vital role the public Register of practitioners plays in protecting the public.
“The online register lets patients check if a doctor is registered and meets Australian standards.” Dr Flynn said. “It helps them make informed decisions, which improve patient safety.”
Professor Grenyer added: “Protecting the public is of paramount importance to national boards. If someone believes that they are being treated by a person who is not registered or who might be misusing a protected title, we want to know about it. If a patient cannot find a health practitioner on the register, please think twice about going to see them and let AHPRA know on 1300 419 495.”