GP forged scripts, breached conditions

prescription legal addiction dependency doctor GP

A tribunal has cancelled a GP’s registration for breaching conditions which had been imposed on it, including that he not prescribe to himself

The Medical Board of Australia has issued a statement about South Australian doctor Graeme Murphy, who was convicted for uttering two forged prescriptions, and had failed to adhere to the conditions on his registration.

The Board had referred Dr Murphy’s case to the former South Australian Health Practitioners Tribunal on 16 August 2017 for professional misconduct over the matters.

Dr Murphy’s registration had been suspended in 2007 by the former Medical Professional Conduct Tribunal for unprofessional conduct in relation to personal use of drugs of dependence. His registration was reinstated in 2010 subject to conditions.

In 2012, the Board began disciplinary proceedings against Dr Murphy in the former South Australian Health Practitioners Tribunal, alleging breaches of the 2010 conditions.

The breaches of the conditions alleged in the 2012 proceedings eventually covered a period between May 2010 and April 2015.

On 29 April 2015, the former tribunal reprimanded Dr Murphy, imposed new conditions upon him and ordered Dr Murphy to pay the Board’s costs.

During this time, Dr Murphy was charged with the criminal offence of two counts of uttering forged prescriptions for Tramadol and Stilnox and found guilty by a Magistrate of those offences.

Dr Murphy subsequently made appeals to a single Judge of the Supreme Court and then to the Full Court. These appeals, concluding in August 2016, were unsuccessful.

The 2015 conditions repeated and expanded the earlier conditions and required treatment, quarterly medical reports to the Board, professional supervision, submission to drug testing, and that he refrain from prescribing for his family members.

In August 2019, the former South Australian Health Practitioners Tribunal was dissolved and the proceedings transitioned to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).

The complaint by then was in its fourth iteration, having been amended on several occasions to add alleged breaches of the 2015 conditions said to have occurred since the earlier iterations of the complaint were filed.

“It was amended for the fifth and final time on 27 March 2020 to incorporate a further alleged breach in February 2020 in which Dr Murphy practised as a general practitioner in Wagga Wagga without approval to practise and without an approved supervisor,” the Board noted.

“The Board took immediate action to suspend Dr Murphy’s registration on 28 February 2020 following the discovery of him practising in Wagga Wagga.”

According to the Medical Board, SACAT has now found that Dr Murphy breached his 2015 conditions including by:

  • prescribing Tramadol;
  • providing false statements in connection with immediate action taken by the Board;
  • presenting forged requests for pathology documents;
  • prescribing or administering schedule 8 drugs to patients;
  • prescribing medications to himself;
  • prescribing medications to a family member and referring another family member for pathology tests;
  • practising medicine without an approved supervisor or approved place of practice several times; and
  • practising medicine in Wagga Wagga without approval.

“The Tribunal found that Dr Murphy’s breaches of the 2015 conditions, his conduct of knowingly uttering the forged prescriptions and statements made by Dr Murphy in an affirmed statement filed with the former tribunal, amounted to professional misconduct because of the gravity of certain of the conduct and because of the cumulative effect of other conduct,” said the Board.

“The Tribunal concluded that some of Dr Murphy’s conduct was so serious that it is inconsistent with him being a fit and proper person to practise medicine.

“His registration was cancelled for three years from 24 November 2020. He also received a reprimand and was ordered to pay the Board’s costs.”

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