Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - ‘Highly inappropriate’ prescribing and poor clinical management leads to four-year ban for GP
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‘Highly inappropriate’ prescribing and poor clinical management leads to four-year ban for GP

03 Jul 2024

A former GP has been reprimanded and disqualified from applying for registration for four years, after prescribing inappropriate and dangerous drugs and providing below standard clinical care to multiple patients.

A hearing of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) on 2 February 2024 heard that Dr Beng Ong repeatedly prescribed restricted drugs including opiates and benzodiazepines to a group of six patients between 2015 and 2019.

The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) alleged that Dr Ong prescribed drugs without clinical justification and, for those drugs that required a permit from the Department of Health to prescribe, either without the relevant permits in place, or in excess of the allowable dosage specified in the permit.

The Board also made various allegations about Dr Ong inadequately managing the clinical care of the patients, including by, for example:

  • prescribing opiates and benzodiazepines without assessing pain or documenting a pain management plan and without considering the risk to patients of such medication
  • failing to identify and manage patients’ drug dependency
  • prescribing other medication to patients without appropriate examinations or risk assessments
  • failing to keep adequate clinical notes.

Not all alleged behaviour applied to all patients.

The Board began investigating Dr Ong following a notification to Ahpra in April 2019, and took immediate action on 16 May of that year to prevent Dr Ong from prescribing restricted medications and drugs of dependence. A second notification was received that month.

Dr Ong retired from medical practice on 30 July 2019 and his registration as a medical practitioner lapsed on 30 September 2019.

At the tribunal hearing Dr Ong admitted the allegations and accepted his behaviour constituted professional misconduct. The tribunal agreed with this characterisation of Dr Ong’s behaviour, observing that his poor clinical management and prescribing practices created significant risk to patients and other members of the community, including risk of serious injury or death.

'Dr Ong prescribed dangerous medications without clinical justification, without the relevant permits in place and where there were permits, in excess of the allowable dosage specified in the permits. Dr Ong’s clinical notes were beyond poor.

His failures in clinical management and prescribing were systematic, repeated and ongoing for approximately five years.'

The tribunal ordered that Dr Ong be:

  • reprimanded
  • disqualified from applying for registration for a period of 4 years.

Read the tribunal’s full decision of the AustLII website.

Page reviewed 3/07/2024