25 Aug 2023
A Queensland dentist has been reprimanded by a tribunal for professional misconduct involving scheduled medicines.
In June 2022, the Dental Board of Australia (the Board) referred Paul Anderson to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) alleging professional misconduct in that he self-administered schedule 8 medicines (fentanyl and pethidine) that he had obtained in his professional capacity as a dentist and practice principal.
Mr Anderson notified the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) in 2013 that he had a substance addiction to codeine. The following year, he told his colleagues about his misuse of pethidine and fentanyl and they in turn notified Ahpra.
In 2015, the Board imposed conditions on Mr Anderson’s registration, removing his right to prescribe schedule 8 medicines. It also required him to continue the treatment he had been receiving since 2013 for his addiction and undergo regular screening for opiate use.
The tribunal noted that Mr Anderson’s conduct was serious, not a one-off incident and went against what constituted professional practice. It found that he had behaved in a way that constituted professional misconduct and ordered he be reprimanded.
The tribunal also observed that Mr Anderson had demonstrated insight into the serious nature of his actions by admitting to them, expressing remorse, and cooperating with the Board and the Office of the Health Ombudsman (co-regulator of registered dental practitioners based in Queensland).
It was the tribunal’s opinion that as there was no evidence of any patient coming to harm and that for eight years, Mr Anderson had fully complied with his registration conditions and taken steps to rehabilitate himself and serve his community, he was no longer a risk to patient safety.
The tribunal recommended that in this case the Board consider removing the reprimand from Mr Anderson’s registration after 12 months.
Read the tribunal’s full decision on AustLII.
Confidential help for dental practitioners: For 24/7 telephone and online advice and referral on a wide range of issues, including mental and physical health and general wellbeing, phone Dental Practitioner Support on 1800 377 700 or go to dpsupport.org.au.