The Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal has censured a doctor, and ordered him to pay $38,500 after he attempted to prescribe himself a high strength pain killer that was not required for his medical condition.

The doctor initially attempted to obtain this high strength pain killer by writing up his own prescription and giving it to a pharmacist. The pharmacist refused to give him the drug, as the self-prescription of high strength painkillers is against protocol.

The doctor accepted this, and scheduled an appointment with another doctor. This doctor prescribed him different medication to treat the medical issue he was having, but did not prescribe the high strength pain killer that the doctor wanted. At this appointment the doctor made no mention of the high strength painkillers.

Before getting his prescription filled, he added the high strength painkiller to the prescription without his doctor’s permission. This mislead the pharmacist into believing that another doctor had prescribed the high strength medicine to him, as the prescription included another doctor’s signature.

The pharmacist prescribed the high strength painkiller to the doctor.

The Tribunal had to decide whether the doctor’s actions constituted professional misconduct, and if they did, what the appropriate disciplinary measures would be.

It was decided that the doctor’s actions constituted professional misconduct, as the self-prescription, and alteration of another doctor’s prescription in an attempt to obtain high strength pain killers was seen to be a serious departure from what is reasonably expected from a medical professional.

The Tribunal censured the doctor, ordered that he must engage a mentor, and ordered that he must advise all current and future employers of this decision. The doctor was also ordered to pay a fine of $2,500, and costs of $36,000.

If there is confusion around the obligations of an employee in an employment relationship, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.

 

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Alan Knowsley & Matthew Binnie

Litigation team
Wellington