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Former medical practitioner reprimanded and disqualified for professional misconduct involving scheduled medicines

24 Jul 2023

A former Victorian medical practitioner has been reprimanded by a tribunal and disqualified from applying for registration for 12 months for professional misconduct involving scheduled medicines.

Dr Luz Conejera was referred to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) by the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) for allegedly:

  • possessing schedule 4 and schedule 8 medicines that she was not authorised to have
  • self-administering a schedule 8 medicine (Ordine)
  • failing to maintain safe custody and disposal of schedule 4 and schedule 8 medicines
  • prescribing various medicines on 54 occasions to patients without supervision, in breach of the conditions imposed on her registration at that time
  • prescribing an excessive quantity of a schedule 4 medicine to a patient, and 
  •  prescribing Oxycodone and other contraindicated medicines to a patient and not having appropriate safeguards in place to monitor the use of the combination of medicines.

The conduct was alleged to have occurred between August 2016 and March 2018.

Following a notification in September 2016, the Board imposed restrictions on Dr Conejera’s registration, requiring that she be supervised, work only in in a group practice and not be the only medical practitioner on site.

In October 2017, the same month the restrictions were imposed, Dr Conejera left the medical practice where she had been working and practised unsupervised from an unknown location, prescribing schedule 4 and schedule 8 medicines (drugs of dependence) to her patients.

Following another notification in March 2018, which revealed Dr Conejera had been breaching the conditions of her registration, she surrendered her general and specialist (general practice) registrations. Dr Conejera gave the Board an undertaking not to practise, and in October 2019 she was granted non-practising registration which later lapsed when it was not renewed.

At a tribunal hearing in June 2022, the tribunal found Dr Conejera had engaged in the alleged conduct which she admitted to doing.

The tribunal was particularly concerned by Dr Conejera’s handling and prescribing of medicines which exposed her patients to risk of harm and in some instances, contravened Victorian legislation relating to drugs, poisons and controlled substances.

It accepted the Board’s submission that Dr Conejera’s conduct involved abuses of her position, that it was serious and widespread, demonstrating a general lack of the qualities essential for registered practitioners to have. The tribunal said her conduct breached the medical profession’s code of conduct by failing to display a standard of behaviour that warrants the trust and respect of the community.

It also noted that complying with conditions imposed on registration was ‘essential to the smooth operation of the system of regulation and discipline’. The tribunal agreed with the Board that the onus was on Dr Conejera to clarify the conditions imposed on her registration if she did not understand them.

The tribunal found that Dr Conejera’s conduct constituted professional misconduct and in January it ordered that she be reprimanded and disqualified from applying for registration for 12 months from 19 January 2023.

Read the tribunal’s full decision on AustLII.

Page reviewed 24/07/2023