An ‘abuse of power’

legal medical tribunal doctor overprescribing

A health practitioner has been disqualified after injecting himself with morphine from his Doctor’s bag and using the same needle to inject his partner

A Sydney doctor has been found guilty of professional misconduct over several complaints brought against him by the Health Care Complaints Commission.

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard that the doctor, who had surrendered his registration as a medical practitioner last year and is now living overseas, had injected himself with morphine for “self-gratification” and, following this, injected his de facto partner (Patient A) using the same needle.

The doctor had met Patient A in July 2013 after she had brought her son in for a consultation.

They commenced a personal relationship from January 2014 until October 2015.

Patient A provided evidence that about six months after they commenced to cohabit, she observed the doctor use a syringe to draw up a liquid from a small brown bottle and inject it into his thigh in his consultation room.

She observed he became “relaxed”.

When Patient A asked him what he had injected, he replied, “morphine” and described himself as feeling “woozy and floatey”.

On another occasion in 2015, Patient A agreed to share a dose of morphine with the doctor, who injected her in her upper thigh.

She stated that immediately after the injection the doctor said, “well, now we’ve shared a needle”.

“He showed me that he had had the other half of the dose he gave me,” she testified.

Patient A also stated that when she questioned the practitioner about his continued use of morphine, he informed her he could only “get it from the Doctor’s bag about once a month”, adding “that is the only way I can get it”.

An expert witness told the tribunal that the doctor’s injecting of his partner with S8 drugs was significantly below the standard expected of a medical practitioner and invited his strong criticism “because it (sic) true consent is not present and an abuse of power, puts the recipient at risk of dependency, is mood altering, is illegal and should not be done to someone responsible for a child”.

He added, “if proven it may be a matter for a police investigation”.

The doctor denied allegations of administering morphine either to himself or Patient A, but the tribunal found that Patient A was a more reliable witness.

“The administration of morphine, in the manner we accept it was applied to Patient A and the respondent, is characterised [by the expert witness] as an ‘abuse of power’. Patient A had the care of a child at the time. Doing so in the context of sharing needles carried with it serious risks of harm,” said the tribunal.

In April 2014, Patient A undertook a receptionist role in the doctor’s practice due to the absence of other staff.

The doctor was found to have permitted Patient A to undertake procedures on his patients that she was not appropriately trained to perform, including taking blood, performing ECGs and conducting allergy tests.

He was also found to have inappropriately prescribed phentermine and alprazolam to Patient A, inappropriately self-administered temazepam, inappropriately prescribed S4D and S8 drugs to his mother, and inappropriately self-administered medication (temazepam) prescribed for his mother.

The doctor admitted to treating his mother from 2000 until 2016, and to self-administering temazepam.

Based on the evidence the tribunal found the doctor to be guilty of professional misconduct and accepted that the matter “overwhelmingly requires the imposition of the protective orders sought by the HCCC”.

It ordered that, had the practitioner been registered at the date of the hearing, the tribunal would have cancelled his registration.

The doctor, who instructed his solicitors that he has no intention of returning to the practise of medicine in Australia, is disqualified for a period of two years and must pay costs to the HCCC.

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