On 4 August 2021, the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (the Tribunal) considered a charge laid by a Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) against Dr Carl Philip Knox, registered medical practitioner of Hamilton (the Doctor).
Convictions for injuring and assault offences
- On 12 June 2020, the Doctor was convicted in the District Court on one charge of injuring with reckless disregard pursuant to section 189(2) of the Crimes Act 1961;
- On 12 June 2020, the Doctor was convicted in the District Court on one charge of assault with intent to injure pursuant to section 193 of the Crimes Act 1961;
Convictions for driving-related offences
- On 12 December 2018, the Practitioner was convicted on one charge of driving a motor vehicle while the proportion of alcohol in his breath exceeded 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath (476 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath), pursuant to section 56(1) of the Land Transport Act 1998;
- On 30 July 2019, the Doctor was convicted on one charge of driving a motor vehicle while disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver licence, pursuant to sections 32(1)(a) and 32(3) of the Land Transport Act 1998;
The convictions set out in paragraphs 1 to 4, either separately or cumulatively
- amounted to professional misconduct in that the convictions have brought or would likely bring discredit to the medical profession (s100(1)(b));
- reflected adversely on the Doctor’s fitness to practise (s100(1)(c));
Contravention of health agreement by consumption of illicit substance
- Between 5 March 2020 and 9 June 2020, the Doctor consumed an illicit substance, namely MDMA, contrary to an agreement with the Medical Council’s Health Committee to be abstinent from illicit substances and non-prescribed substances.
The alleged conduct, either separately or cumulatively with paragraphs 1 to 4, amounted to professional misconduct in that it has brought or would likely bring discredit to the profession.
After his mother passed away in May 2016, the Doctor started to drink heavily and was using illegal substances. With the Doctor's consent, his GP advised the Medical Council about substance related issues. The Doctor subsequently decided to stop practising.
At the end of March 2018, the Doctor advised the Health Committee that he wished to return to medical practice. In May 2018, his request to recommence practise was approved by the Health Committee on a conditional basis.
In April 2019, the Doctor again advised the Health Committee that he was going to cease medical practice.
In August 2019 he advised the Health Committee that he wished to return to work and in November 2019, following a psychiatric assessment, he was approved for returning to work with monitoring and testing in place.
While under a monitoring arrangement in July 2018, the Doctor was involved in an incident at a Returned Services Association. He was subsequently charged, pleaded guilty and convicted in the District Court on 12 June 2020 for injuring and assault offences.
On 9 November 2018, the Doctor was stopped at a Police Checkpoint. Breath test procedures found 476 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The Doctor was charged, pleaded guilty, convicted and sentenced on 12 December 2018 for drink driving.
On 3 April 2019 the Doctor was stopped by the Police and subsequently charged with driving while disqualified. On 30 July 2019, he pleaded guilty and was convicted with driving whilst disqualified.
On 13 January 2020, the Doctor entered into an agreement with the Health Committee for his return to medical practice. Amongst other conditions, the Doctor agreed to abstain from illicit substances. He agreed to provide three-monthly hair samples to be tested. One of the three-monthly hair samples taken on 9 June 2020 (covering the preceding three months) tested positive for MDMA.
On 8 March 2021 the PCC decided that a charge be brought against the Doctor before the Tribunal.
The hearing proceeded via audio-visual link. The Doctor accepted the four convictions as set out in particulars 1 - 4 of the charge and acknowledged that he was in breach of the Health Agreement.
The Tribunal established the charge in relation to the Doctor’s convictions pursuant to s 100(1)(c) of the HPCA Act, but not in respect of the ground of bringing discredit to the medical profession pursuant to s 100(1)(b). The Tribunal considered there was substantial overlap with the conviction charge under s 100(1)(c) and were not satisfied that an additional finding of professional misconduct under s100(1)(b) was warranted. The finding of professional misconduct under s100(1)(c) adequately addreses the need to impose a penalty in this case.
Regarding particular 5, the Doctor did consume an illicit substance contrary to his agreement with the Health Committee however, this breach was not established as conduct that had brought or would likely bring discredit to the profession under s100(1)(b).
The Doctor’s conduct and the seriousness of the criminal convictions warranted the Tribunal imposing a disciplinary sanction.
The Doctor was:
- Subject to conditions placed on his practice;
- Ordered to pay costs of $12,500.00.
The Tribunal directed publication of the decision and a summary.