The case was presented before the Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which assessed the ethics and risks of doctors taking drugs outside work hours. The tribunal heard that DAC held an "unconditional infatuation" for Dr A and they took the drugs from October 2012 to February 2013.
The pair eventually realised that they were becoming addicted and had planned to wean themselves off it with the help of the anti-epileptic drug Pregabalin. However, Dr A died of a heroin overdose in March 2013. Both also used drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy whilst socalising.
A senior doctor who’s failed his mentee
It was in the first few months of 2013 that Dr A’s colleagues began to notice that he was tired and "not coping as well as he had" ; but DAC was found to have failed to both urge Dr A to seek professional treatment and report that he was working under the effects of GHB. In addition, he prescribed Dr A drugs.
In fact, DAC denied having knowledge that Dr A was under the influence at work; but the tribunal found Whatsapp messages between the two that showed he did. On the afternoon of 9 April 2013, Dr A sent DAC a message saying: "Thanks man, how much you had today? I just had 0.5. Not unhappy with that."
Hospital records revealed Dr A had just completed a surgery at this time. DAC also lied about not experiencing any withdrawal symptoms himself; but again, the tribunal found a Whatsapp message sent in April in which DAC wrote: "I am withdrawing like a motherf---er and I don't know what to do."
Doctor with “high degree of clinical skill” to be monitored
On Wednesday, 28 June 2017, the tribunal found the neurosurgeon – who works in a private and public hospital in New South Wales – guilty of five counts of unsatisfactory professional conduct and one of professional misconduct. It also noted that whilst DAC had been clean since 2014, he was still at a high risk of relapse.
He has been suspended for three months and will only be allowed to return in the future, if he fulfills certain conditions such as seeing an addiction specialist and continuing random urine drug tests. Despite this, they did note that, "there is no suggestion that his practice of medicine, or patient care or safety, have been compromised as a result of actions detailed in the complaints."
The tribunal was also made aware of “alarming evidence suggesting the widespread consumption of drugs both by qualified medical practitioners and by nursing staff, albeit such incidents occurred in social settings." This concerned the tribunal; because of the potential danger it held for patients and therefore sent a copy of its decision and reasons to the New South Wales health minister. MIMS
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