An ‘unusual’ case


Heroin in a syringe and powder

A man has died by overdose in a GP surgery after taking drugs alongside the GP’s daughter – who also worked at the practice

A 43-year-old man from Adelaide has died from heroin overdose in what the South Australian Coroner has deemed “unusual circumstances”.

The man died on 4 March 2016 after being injected with heroin in the rooms of a general practitioner – of whom he was a patient.

In a strange twist of events, one of the people involved in the drug taking was the GP’s daughter, who worked at the practice as a general receptionist and phlebotomist.

The GP’s daughter had met the deceased, and another man who was present during the events, through her work as a receptionist at the practice.

At the time she had been living with the deceased for five to six months, although their relationship was not sexual.

Through her counsel before the coroner, the GP’s daughter accepted she had been the ‘conduit’ for access to the clinic and pathology room of her father’s practice.

She also acknowledged that by providing the two men with access to the room, she also provided them with access to paraphernalia that was used to administer the heroin, including a silver mixing bowl, three 5cc syringes and some cotton wool.

She acknowledged she had made an “inexcusable error of judgement” in both a professional and personal sense, and had shown a complete lack of respect for the medical and health services environment in which she worked.

According to her evidence before the coroner, the third man in the party had injected both herself and the deceased with heroin.

After she passed out, her father entered the room and found his daughter and the deceased in a state of collapse.

The GP commenced CPR on his daughter and, following this, commenced CPR on the deceased.

During this time the third man had left the room, with the coroner finding he had most likely ‘swept’ the room of drug paraphernalia to dispose of them.

He returned to assist the doctor in performing CPR.

The GP then approached a pharmacist in the adjoining pharmacy to contact triple zero for him. The pharmacist stayed with him until paramedics arrived.

However the man passed away about an hour later, despite paramedic efforts to save him.

“A death by heroin overdose in a doctor’s surgery is certainly no common occurrence,” said State Coroner Mark Johns.

He criticised the police investigation, saying no effort was made to search the premises for the discarded drug paraphernalia.

The third man involved in the event had also been permitted to wander the scene and maintain possession of the deceased’s telephone for hours after police arrived, he said.

No recommendations were made.

Previous Research Roundup
Next Under audit

NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.