Performance and Professional Standards panel
Jurisdiction: South Australia
Date of Hearing: 4 April 2013
Date of Decision: 14 May 2013
Pharmacy/medication - Inappropriate supply
Boundary violation – other inappropriate relationship (non-sexual)
It was alleged that the doctor had prescribed drugs of dependence to a patient in a manner that was not safe and appropriate when the doctor knew the patient was a drug user and when the prescribing occurred over a period of 21 months.
It was also alleged that the doctor behaved in a way that constituted unprofessional conduct by breaching professional boundaries by inviting the patient to their home, supplying the patient with alcohol, giving them money and hugging them on multiple occasions.
The panel found that the doctor had prescribed large amounts of drugs of dependence to the patient without adequate review or exploration of non-pharmaceutical based treatment options or consideration of referral. The prescribing was not within the the RACGP Guidelines for the prescribing of benzodiazepines and the panel expressed reservations about the doctor’s lack of insight and belief in their own clinical judgment and performance. Further, the panel found that the doctor had confirmed the patient’s attendance at the doctor’s home, the consumption of alcohol at those premises and the provision of small sums of money to the patient. Finally, the panel found that the doctor admitted to having hugged the patient at the end of consultations and conceded that doing so was a doctor-patient boundary violation.
The panel found that the doctor had behaved in a way that constituted unsatisfactory professional performance and unprofessional conduct.
The panel reprimanded the doctor and imposed conditions on their registration about the prescribing of benzodiazepines; requiring the doctor to undertake specific training about prescribing benzodiazepines and maintaining professional boundaries. Due to the panel’s concerns about the doctor’s lack of insight, it also imposed a condition requiring the doctor to attend a neuro-psychologist, to assess the doctor’s fitness to practise.