Doctor fined for illegally prescribing abortion drugs

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

Photo: 123RF

The New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal said the doctor, whose name is deleted, unlawfully prescribed the drugs to two patients.

This decision was contrary to the requirements of the law on contraception, sterilization and abortion. The charge was brought against “Dr. E” by an ethics committee and the case was heard on January 29.

In one patient, the doctor should have known that 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 law came into force on March 23, women had to first see their GP for a referral, then speak to two other doctors, called certifying consultants, before being allowed to have an abortion. In addition to this, the pills needed for early medical abortion, which are usually taken at intervals of 24 to 48 hours, had to be administered on the premises of a licensed abortion clinic.

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

The court ruled that the doctor’s conduct constituted “negligence and professional misconduct” which brought discredit to the medical profession.

“There was a material breach of standards and his misconduct warranted disciplinary action.”

The court found that the doctor’s notes did not meet basic standards for medical record keeping.

It did not document details of patients with complaints, examination results, diagnosis or management plans.

He was fined $7,500, had exercise conditions imposed on him, and ordered to pay costs of $22,500.

The doctor admitted that his conduct constituted professional misconduct

There are standing orders removing his name and that of his wife, the practice in which he worked, the dispensing pharmacies and any identifying details of the two patients.

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