Self prescribing doctor treats himself to a big fine


By Emma O'Sullivan

25 Jan 2019

A $4000 fine and reprimand are the price paid by a WA doctor who wrote prescriptions for himself and his partner.

Dr Kenneth Charles Lee admitted to professional misconduct at a State Administrative Tribunal hearing in relation to his self treatment with S4 medications including eformoterol, pramipexole, clonidine, colchicine, liothyronine and testosterone

He also wrote prescriptions for medications such as desvenlafaxine, mirtazapine, meloxicam and danazol in the name of his partner for his personal use between 2015 and 2017.

The tribunal found that Dr Lee had prescribed various S4 medicines for his partner, including selegiline, amoxycillin, telmisartan, cephalexin, nifedipine and raloxifene.

There was no suggestion that the medications prescribed were inappropriate or in excessive quantities. However, the tribunal found that Dr Lee had breached the Medical Board of Australia’s Good medical practice code of conduct on self treatment.

The breaches included:

  • Failing to seek independent, objective advice when needing medical care, and not consulting and taking advice from colleagues.
  • Providing medical care to a person with whom he had a close personal relationship when he could have referred his partner to another medical practitioner.
  • Failing to maintain professional boundaries.
  • Failing to keep adequate records with respect to his medical care of his partner.

Dr Lee received a reprimand and was required to pay costs of $2,500 in addition to the $4000 fine. He also had conditions put on his registration prohibiting him from self-prescribing and prescribing to family members.

The case should serve as a reminder of the professional and legal obligations on doctors with respect to prescribing for self and family, said Dr Sara Bird, Executive Manager, Professional Services at MDA National.

Speaking to the limbic, Dr Bird said the Medical Board’s Code of Conduct cautions doctors against self prescribing and providing medical care to family, friends or colleagues, wherever possible.  And even in exceptional cases there would need to be careful management and recognition of the issues at hand when treating oneself or family.

Dr Bird noted that legal restrictions on prescribing to family, friends and self vary from state to state, but even where there are no legal barriers it is still not good medical practice.

“Think very carefully before you prescribe for family and friends – there are potential risks to both you and your family member/friend if you proceed,” she advised.

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