A doctor who improperly wrote scripts in the names of his staff, to provide stock to a pharmacist running a “hydration clinic” in his building, has been cautioned
A medical practitioner and director of a general practice in East Sydney has been cautioned for writing prescriptions for a hydration clinic operating in his building.
Owned and operated by a registered pharmacist, the clinic had been approved for a trial tenancy in the building in early 2016.
After being approached by the pharmacist, the medical practitioner had written prescriptions for a combination of substances known as a “Myers’ cocktail” – a combination of magnesium, calcium, various B vitamins and vitamin C.
He had also written prescriptions for methylcobalamin and glutathione to be administered by infusion or injection.
Glutathione administered by parenteral route is classified as S4.
These prescriptions were written in the names of staff members at the clinic, including receptionists, the practice manager as well as in the name of the pharmacist who was running the clinic.
They were provided with repeats and without any formal consultations with the patients involved, and no medical records were made.
At least one of the patients had no knowledge at all that a prescription had been written in her name.
The doctor conceded that when he wrote the prescriptions he understood that the majority of the medications would not be for personal use of the four staff members but for stock for the clinic.
However he stated that he had believed – based on information on the hydration clinic’s website – that before any patient received hydration therapy they would be assessed online by a medical practitioner.
He also explained that he had felt “badgered” into writing prescriptions by the pharmacist and clinic owner.
The practitioner had “inappropriately but innocently” relied on the advice of his then practice director regarding the pharmacists’ credentials, found the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
The pharmacist had actually been the subject of Pharmacy Board criticisms and had also been convicted of stealing from a pharmacy in Victoria between 2014 and 2016.
She is currently suspended as a pharmacist practitioner, according to the AHPRA register.
In an incident unrelated to the doctor’s scripts, the hydration clinic had administered an infusion to a patient that ended up in hospital with suspected endotoxaemia.
On learning of the incident, the doctor and his fellow director at the practice terminated the pharmacist’s tenancy.
While the Tribunal found that the doctor’s conduct was “improper … we accept that he made a grave error of judgement in unusual circumstances”.
“His remorse and distress about his actions was evident,” said the Tribunal.
“Our assessment of the practitioner’s character … is that the error of judgement is highly unlikely to be repeated.
“His ignorance of glutathione being a S4 drug when administered parenterally was understandable given its availability over the counter,” the Tribunal continued.
The practitioner’s actions and failures were not so serious that his registration should be suspended or cancelled, it found.
He was cautioned and ordered to pay 50% of the HCCC’s costs.