The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal has suspended and censured a doctor who continued to use drugs after agreeing to stop, tried to get around testing procedures, and prescribed controlled drugs to a person that was not his patient. The Tribunal also awarded significant costs against the practitioner.

The Doctor told the Health Committee about his dependence on cannabis when reapplying for his practicing certificate.

The Committee put in place a testing regime that the doctor had to comply with, and required the doctor to sign an agreement that he would stop using the drug.

The Doctor did not stop, which was detected in some of the drug tests. The Doctor also used an anonymous patient profile, used by the practice, for himself to screen his urine samples.

Additionally, during this time the Doctor prescribed controlled drugs to a person who was not a patient, and that he had not assessed.

The Tribunal held that the practitioner’s actions together amounted to professional misconduct, and explained that cannabis dependence “must inevitably carry some risks” despite there being no evidence of impacts on his patients.

The Tribunal ordered the Doctor to be suspended for two months, censured him, and required him to pay costs of $31,528.

It is important that health practitioners understand the risks that using controlled drugs may have on their practice, safety of patients, and the risk it may pose to their careers. It is further worth noting that attempts to avoid detection and failing to comply with the regulatory body requirements risks making the situation far worse.

If there are concerns about the conduct of a medical professional, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.

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