24 Feb 2022
A Victorian general practitioner has been disqualified for four years after a tribunal found he had prescribed drugs of dependence to vulnerable patients for his own use.
On 24 December 2020, the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) referred Dr Jacob Miller to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) alleging professional misconduct.
The Board alleged that between December 2015 and December 2017, Dr Miller had exploited six patients by prescribing codeine-containing medication and diazepam in the patients’ names, and then asking them to have the scripts filled and provide him with the medication, to feed his codeine addiction.
The Board further alleged that over the same period, Dr Miller had failed to provide good patient care to those patients, and practised while he was aware, or ought to have suspected, that he had a health condition or impairment that could adversely affect his judgement, performance or patients’ health and which was not adequately managed or controlled.
Dr Miller admitted the allegations, and the tribunal found each allegation amounted to professional misconduct.
The tribunal found Dr Miller had placed his patients at risk both in terms of their health and by involving them in an unlawful scheme. Despite Dr Miller’s codeine addiction and other mental health challenges, the tribunal concluded he knew what he was doing and that it was wrong, and strongly condemned the conduct.
On 12 January 2022, the tribunal ordered Dr Miller be reprimanded and disqualified from applying for registration until 2026. Dr Miller had already surrendered his registration and ceased practising shortly after concerns about his conduct arose in late 2017.
The tribunal noted that while Dr Miller had semi-voluntarily retired and the disqualification period would have no real consequence for him, it would send the message that practitioners who exploit vulnerable patients for their own gratification will be the subject of a career-ending disqualification.
The tribunal's full decision has been published on the AustLII website.