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Disciplinary proceedings against doctors who abuse controlled substances
journal contributionposted on 2015-09-21, 00:00 authored by Danuta MendelsonDanuta Mendelson
Study examined 27 reports from disciplinary tribunals against medical practitioners who abused narcotic analgesics (often combined with other drugs of addiction) between 2010 and 2015. The study covered all States and Territories except Tasmania (no reports were accessible for this jurisdiction. The reports revealed that 12 medical practitioners were in their 40s; five in their 30s; and one person still in the 20s. Although majority were General Practitioners (15 out of 27), other medical specialties were also represented. Self-administered Pethidine was the most prevalent opioid (11 out of 27), and was the only drug used alone. Morphine was self-administered by six doctors; the same number used high doses of Panadeine Forte, Codeine and Codeine Phosphate, and Fentanyl was abused by five doctors. Surprisingly, fewer medical practitioners appear to use such opiates such as Propofol, Tramadol and Tramol, Oxycodone and Endone. The examination of cases suggests lack of consistency in the imposition of professional sanctions and penalties by the relevant tribunals. The study concludes that disciplinary tribunals should apply the test of proportionality in the form of ‘reasonable necessity’ when deciding whether to remove or suspend the addicted medical practitioner from the Register.