In Medical Board of Australia v GMZ, a practitioner was found to have self-administered schedule 4 drugs over a period of 6 years that had not been legitimately prescribed to him. The practitioner had also made false representations to obtain the drugs and forged prescriptions on his father’s prescription pad.
The practitioner’s name was suppressed on the basis that its publication would be deleterious to his rehabilitation. Suppression orders are not typically made in disciplinary matters because the educative and deterrent function of the proceedings requires publication of the decision to demonstrate to the public and profession that the certain conduct will not be tolerated. The Tribunal noted that it was a rare instance in which they would suppress publication of a health practitioner’s name in disciplinary proceedings, but that it was warranted in the circumstances of this case. In granting the suppression order the Tribunal took into the consideration the opinion of the practitioner’s treating psychiatrist and the fact that the practitioner’s conduct had not directly affected the care or treatment of a patient.
On finding that the practitioner had engaged in professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct, the Tribunal acknowledged that they would have imposed a significant sanction on the practitioner which would have impacted on his registration status, but for a number of mitigating factors. These factors included the practitioner’s cooperation with the Board, his compliance with the conditions imposed on his registration by the Board prior to the hearing, the insight he demonstrated into his conduct and his efforts to rehabilitate himself and take measures to address his personal issues in addition to becoming drug free.
In addition to the reprimand, the Tribunal placed extensive conditions on the practitioner’s registration requiring him to undergo frequent drug testing, make regular reports to the Board and to limit his ability to prescribe and administer drugs of dependence.
The decision illustrates the degree to which a Tribunal may take into consideration the efforts made by a practitioner to address the underlying reasons for misconduct as well as the mitigating effect of cooperation with the Board.
To read the full decision, click here.