On 29 May 2019, the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (the Tribunal) considered a charge of professional misconduct laid by a Professional Conduct Committee against Dr A, a registered medical practitioner (the Doctor).
The charge alleged the Doctor breached her ethical obligations when she prescribed prescription medicines and controlled drugs including the drugs tramadol hydrochloride, zopiclone, codeine phosphate, citalopram hydrobromide, lorazepam, mirtazapine, and triazolam for her own use. She prescribed these drugs in her own name and in the name of family members knowing that she was the intended recipient of the medication.
It was also alleged that she consumed the drugs and mislead or attempted to mislead her employer and the Medical Council by advising them she had not picked up a prescription dispensed to her. In addition she misled or attempted to mislead a pharmacist by incorrectly leading him to believe the drugs prescribed by her were for patients rather than for her own use.
The alleged misconduct occurred over the period of 8 May 2011 to 19 May 2017.
The Doctor signed an Agreed Statement of Facts in which she admitted the truth and accuracy of most of the Charge. She denied the allegations which related to misleading or attempting to mislead the pharmacist.
The Doctor accepted that her conduct amounted to professional misconduct.
The Tribunal found all the particulars established except for the particular which related to the allegation about the Doctor misleading or attempting to mislead the pharmacist.
The Tribunal found all the particulars established, and severally and cumulatively, they amounted to professional misconduct.
The Tribunal ordered:
- the Doctor be censured;
- the Doctor pay a fine of $5,000;
- five conditions be placed on her practising certificate which will apply for three years from when the Doctor resumes or continues practice; and
- the Doctor pay costs of $30,000 which was approximately 35% of the total costs.
The Tribunal recommended to the Health Committee of the Medical Council that it obtain dispensing information from the Ministry of Health regularly to monitor the Doctor’s compliance with the Medical Council statement on Good Prescribing Practice and other relevant Codes.