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Hartnett, Epstein, Van der Hope: regulating unconventional doctors

journal contribution
posted on 2018-02-14, 00:00 authored by Gabrielle WolfGabrielle Wolf
Doctors Francis Timothy Hartnett, Zygmunt Epstein and Izso Hartmayer Van der Hope were the first medical practitioners to appeal against decisions of the Medical Board of Victoria (Board) to cancel doctors’ registration to practise medicine after finding that they had engaged in “infamous conduct in a professional respect”. This article analyses the
Board’s decisions in the 1940s regarding these three doctors and their appeals. The article argues that the doctors were unconventional and the Board’s members, whose own career successes were built on their adherence to custom, allowed their aversion to the doctors’ nonconformity to compromise their impartial assessment of their behaviour. The Board had only the finding of infamous conduct and the sanction of deregistration with which to respond to doctors’ conduct that fell below professional standards, but in these three cases, cancellation of the doctors’ registration to practise medicine was unduly severe and disproportionate to the gravity of their behaviour. This investigation illustrates the importance of the passage of legislation – after these cases were heard – empowering the Board to impose more lenient sanctions than deregistration for doctors’ unprofessional conduct. It also highlights that regulators of the medical profession must still ensure that
any antipathy they may feel towards doctors for their unconventionality does not influence their assessment of a fitting response to their conduct.



Journal of Law and Medicine






331 - 356


Lawbook Co.


Rozelle, N.S.W.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal; C Journal article

Copyright notice

2017, Thomson Reuters (Professional) Australia