A snapshot of registered health practitioner misconduct in Victoria: December 2021 to January 2022

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By Partner, Stuart Eustice and Lawyer, Holly White 

December 2021

An enrolled nurse was reprimanded, de-registered and disqualified for four years after engaging in boundary violations, including sexual misconduct, with an inpatient 22 years his junior. He shared and facilitated the use of illicit substances with the patient and drove the patient while being impaired by illicit substances himself.[1]

A rural GP was reprimanded and disqualified after using methamphetamine, practising medicine while affected by methamphetamine and providing false information to the Medical Board and undermining its investigation. The Tribunal accepted evidence the practitioner had a health condition which detrimentally impaired his capacity to practice safely and appropriately and decided not to impose a disqualification period.[2]

A registered nurse was reprimanded, de-registered, disqualified for seven years (including four years suspension prior to the VCAT hearing) and prohibited from providing a health service to persons in hospitals, residential aged care or similar settings for the disqualification period after engaging in elder abuse. He financially exploited a vulnerable aged care resident over approximately two years, receiving more than $100,000 and engaged in coercive and intimidatory behaviour towards the resident in an effort to have the complaint withdrawn.[3]

A pharmacist was reprimanded, de-registered and disqualified for one year after misappropriating vast amounts of alprazolam (Xanax). He was convicted of six offences including 90 instances of unlawful possession of alprazolam (including 70 instances possessing a traffickable quantity) and over 90 instances of falsifying/altering or failing to maintain required records relating to that. The pharmacist was placed on a 24-month community corrections order which was breached when he committed a further similar offence, he convicted and placed on a new 24-month community corrections order. He also practiced for approximately five months without professional indemnity insurance.[4]

January 2022

An elderly GP was reprimanded and had conditions imposed on his registration for auditing and mentoring after providing substandard patient care and failing to maintain adequate clinical records.[5]

A retired GP with a codeine addiction was reprimanded and disqualified for four years after using his patients to obtain codeine medications for him.[6]

A registered nurse was reprimanded, de-registered, disqualified for ten years and prohibited from providing a health service for ten years after being jailed for six months for installing hidden cameras in the toilet and change room for female staff and post-operative recovery ward at his place of employment and for sexually assaulting a patient. He also failed to report his convictions to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia as required by the National Law.[7]

A GP was reprimanded, de-registered, disqualified for six years and prohibited from providing health services or using the title ‘Doctor’ for six years after conduct promoting anti-vaccination sentiment (prior to the Covid-19 pandemic). In two years, he falsely completed over 320 exemption certificates which allowed unvaccinated children to be enrolled in childcare or their parents to access Commonwealth financial benefits, and encouraged other people and medical practitioners to do the same. He altered a letter he received from the Deputy Chief Health Officer (turning it from a letter conveying concerns to a letter confirming he had the power to issue exemption certificates) and failed to co-operate with the regulator investigating complaints into his conduct.[8]

A retired psychiatrist was reprimanded and disqualified for two years after engaging in professional misconduct over 14 years. He inappropriately prescribed medications, failed to maintain adequate records and breached professional boundaries.[9]

[1] Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia v Bethune [2021] VCAT 1476

[2] Medical Board of Australia v KFM [2021] VCAT 1479

[3] Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia v Cherian [2021] VCAT 1480

[4] Pharmacy Board of Australia v Trieu [2021] VCAT 1487

[5] Medical Board of Australia v Jigau [2022] VCAT 30

[6] Medical Board of Australia v Miller [2022] VCAT 33

[7] Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia v Farrow [2022] VCAT 43

[8] Medical Board of Australia v Piesse [2022] VCAT 82

[9] Medical Board of Australia v Symons [2022] VCAT 89

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