A Professional Conduct Committee laid three charges of professional misconduct against Ms Danielle Renee Hart-Murray, a registered midwife of Auckland (the Midwife).
The Midwife practised in the Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB) area. The charges alleged:
- In April 2017 she wrote a prescription on blank paper for excessive quantities of Tramadol in the name of Ms M, who was not a patient of the CMDHB.
- On 10 May 2017 she wrote another prescription in the name of Ms M for further quantities of Tramadol with repeats, and for Codeine Phosphate with repeats. On 17 May 2017 the Midwife presented this prescription to a pharmacy holding herself out to be Ms M.
- On 3 October 2017 she wrote a prescription using the name of another midwife, Ms S, for a patient Ms Y. The prescription was again for manifestly excessive quantities of Tramadol with repeats, and for Codeine Phosphate with repeats. The Midwife presented the prescription to a pharmacy holding herself out to be patient Ms Y.
On 4 October 2017 the Midwife had admitted that she was dependent on, and was actively seeking, codeine and other medications.
Ms M needed contraceptive pills at the time and Ms M said she was under the impression that the Midwife could write a prescrition for this. The Midwife wrote the prescription on a blank sheet of lined refill paper for 6 months worth of contraceptive and two emergency contraceptive pills in case these were later needed. The Midwife asked Ms M if she could add some pills for herself because the Midwife had run out of them to which Ms M agreed. The Midwife then added 100 x Tramadol to the script. After Ms M had filled the script she handed the Midwife the box of Tramadol. The Midwife immediately opened the box and took one or two of the pills.
When the script was presented the Pharmacist was concerned as he was aware that Tramadol can cause, or may be suspected of causing, harmful effects on human foetus or neonates. He called the Midwife on the mobile number recorded as part of the prescriber details on the script and left a voicemail message. The Midwife called him back later and in answer to questions from the Pharmacist concerning the use of Tramadol, the Midwife reassured him it was appropriate in the circumstances. The Midwife returned to the pharmacy, holding herself out to be Ms M, and collected the Tramadol.
The Midwife presented the prescription to a pharmacy and held herself out to be Ms Y. When the pharmacist told the Midwife that the prescrition would need to be checked the Midwife left the Pharmacy.
When the pharmacist telephoned the number on the script to verify the prescription he spoke to a woman called "Catherine" who said she had taken over Ms S's practice and asked that the prescription be dispensed immediately as the patient was about to go overseas. Midwife Ms S said that when she left CMDHB her mobile number was allocated to another community midwife. The Tribunal was satisfied that when the pharmacist telephoned he spoke to the Midwife who claimed to be "Catherine".
The Tribunal drew the inference that in the circumstances of this Charge the Midwife was using the prescription for Ms M to obtain the Tramadol drugs for herself. The Tribunal found this charge established and warranted disciplinary sanction.
The Tribunal found the Midwife had engaged in a significant litany of lies in order to achieve her objective, namely to obtain the Tramadol and codeine phosphate that she sought. The Tribunal also found the prescription breached the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. The Tribunal found this Charge established and warranted disciplinary sanction.
The Tribunal was satisfied that the Midwife had written the script in the name of Midwife, Ms S and had held herself out to be patient Ms Y. The Tribunal also found the prescription breached the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. The Tribunal found this Charge established and warranted disciplinary sanction.
The Tribunal censured the Midwife and ordered cancellation of her registration. She was further ordered to pay costs of $6000.00. The Tribunal directed publication of its decision and a summary.