10 Jul 2020

Doctor fined for illegally prescribing abortion drugs

1:18 pm on 10 July 2020

A doctor has been fined and disciplined for misprescribing abortion drugs.

A doctor with a stethoscope writes up a medical record

Photo: 123RF

The New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal said the doctor, whose name is suppressed, illegally prescribed the medicines to two patients.

The move was against the requirements of the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act. The charge was laid against "Dr E" by a Professional Conduct Committee and the matter was heard on 29 January.

In one patient the doctor ought to have known the prescription exceeded the recommended dose. He also prescribed it in combination with Primolut - an inappropriate treatment for termination of pregnancy.

Before the new Abortion Legislation Act came into play on 23 March, women were required to first see their GP for a referral to then speak to two more doctors, called certifying consultants, before they were allowed to have an abortion. In addition to this, the pills required for an early medical abortion, which are usually taken 24 to 48 hours apart, had to be administered on the premises of a licensed abortion clinic.

The doctor also failed to ensure he had adequate knowledge of the medications, failed to undertake appropriate clinical assessments and failed to keep clear or accurate records.

The tribunal found the doctor's conduct amounted "negligence and malpractice" which brought discredit to the doctor's profession.

"There was a significant breach of standards and his misconduct warranted a disciplinary sanction."

The tribunal found that the doctor's notes failed to meet basic standards of medical record keeping.

He did not document details of the patients presenting complaint, any examination findings, diagnosis or management plans.

He was fined $7500, has had conditions imposed on his practice and ordered to pay costs of $22,500.

The doctor accepted his conduct amounted to professional misconduct

There are permanent orders suppressing his name and that of his wife, the practice at which he worked, the dispensing pharmacies, and any identifying details of the two patients.

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