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MDLinxAustralian Physician Charged with Malpractice After Inheriting $24 Million from a Patient

The patient amended their will to benefit Dr. Peter Alexakis just three months before their death in 2017.

In a recent controversial case from Australia, Dr. Peter Alexakis, a Sydney-based physician, came under scrutiny after inheriting a staggering $24 million from a patient. The inheritance has raised questions about the ethical boundaries of doctor-patient relationships and the potential for conflicts of interest.

Key Points:

  • Dr. Peter Alexakis inherited $24 million, including a $3 million home, from an unnamed patient.
  • The will was contested by the original beneficiaries, including the Salvation Army, in the NSW Supreme Court in 2023.
  • The Health Care Complaints Commission alleged Dr. Alexakis exploited the patient for financial gain, citing 92 visits in the months leading to the patient’s death.
  • Dr. Alexakis had previously inherited $80,000 from another patient in 2015.
  • The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal charged Dr. Alexakis with malpractice and unprofessional conduct, with potential consequences pending.

Additional Points:

  • The American Medical Association’s Code of Ethics advises physicians to decline disproportionately large gifts to maintain the integrity of the patient-physician relationship.
  • Dr. Arun Durgam suggests small gifts as tokens of appreciation are generally ethically acceptable, but larger gifts can compromise professionalism and objectivity.


  • Although inheriting from a patient isn’t illegal, it can pose significant ethical and legal challenges, potentially blurring the lines of the doctor-patient relationship.

“Usually, a small gift that is a token of appreciation isn’t an ethical problem. A large gift might come with expectations of preferential treatment. It can undermine professionalism and interfere with objectivity in the care of the patient.”

Arun Durgam, MD
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