30 Jun 2017
A former medical practitioner in New South Wales has been successfully prosecuted for holding out as a registered medical practitioner when they were not.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) laid charges under section 116 of the National Law on behalf of the Medical Board of Australia (the Board). The former medical practitioner pleaded guilty in a New South Wales court earlier this year.
The court heard that on a number of occasions between November 2015 and June 2016 the individual prescribed medication to a member of the public who understood them to be a registered medical practitioner.
The individual has not been a registered medical practitioner since early 2004 after initially registering as a medical practitioner with the former Medical Board of New South Wales in the mid-1980s.
It was alleged that the individual intentionally used the title, description and initials “Dr” on prescriptions presented to a pharmacy on two occasions last year, which they gave to a member of the public who understood them to be a registered medical practitioner.
During sentencing the magistrate took into account mitigating factors, including that the drugs in question were not drugs of addiction and the former medical practitioner had obtained no financial gain by issuing the scripts. The individual was cooperative at all times during the investigation, had no prior convictions and had pleaded guilty.
The magistrate found the individual did have the appropriate training and was subject to health practitioner regulation for a period of more than 15 years before their registration as a medical practitioner lapsed, and so this decreased the risk in the behaviour.
The former medical practitioner advised the court that they accepted the statement of facts put forward by AHPRA and apologised for their conduct.
The magistrate found the charges to be proven and sentenced the individual without recording a conviction, hence they are not named. The court ordered a good behaviour bond and ordered the former medical practitioner to pay costs of $2,950 to AHPRA.
Claiming to be a registered health practitioner when not registered is an offence under the National Law. The law allows for penalties for falsely using protected titles or holding yourself out to be a registered practitioner when you are not. There are also certain practices, such as prescribing and completing certain documents that can only be done by registered health practitioners.
The current registration status of all registered health practitioners in Australia is published on the national register of practitioners. If a person’s name does not appear on the register, they are not registered to practise in a regulated health profession in Australia.
1The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).