Doctor suspended over abortion drug prescription

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A doctor has been suspended for six months for illegally prescribing abortion medication and ordered to pay nearly $29,000 in legal costs.

The woman, who has interim name suppression, was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, which released its decision today.

A suppression order prevents publication of certain details of the case.

But APNZ can report the woman faced numerous allegations relating to prescribing the abortion drug misoprostol (Cytotec).

The tribunal was told she prescribed it to three patients in a manner contrary to legal pregnancy termination procedures specified in the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act.

It was told she failed to undertake appropriate clinical assessments to determine whether a woman's pregnancy was "non-viable"; failed to to exclude the risk of a woman's pregnancy being ectopic; failed to ensure a woman had adequate support available to her; and that she instructed a nurse by telephone to dispense the drug to a woman without first having seen her in consultation.

The tribunal was told that she prescribed 56 tablets to one patient, 16 to another, eight to a third and two to the fourth.

She did not document the prescriptions in her clinical notes.

The tribunal found her actions amounted to professional misconduct and suspended her for six months.

She would further be required to attend regular peer group meetings, attend courses on note taking, and disclose the charge to all current and future employers.

She would also be required to be guided by a mentor approved by the Medical Council.

The tribunal recommended that she should be prohibited from prescribing or supplying misoprostol for three years.

She was also formally censured and ordered to pay $28,950 for costs incurred by the Medical Council's Professional Conduct Committee, which brought the charge.

- APNZ

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