11 Jul 2016
A medical practitioner who admitted inappropriate prescribing has had her registration suspended by a tribunal for professional misconduct.
The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) started disciplinary proceedings against Dr Michelle Ong in November 2014 about Dr Ong’s treatment of 12 patients. The Board’s referral to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) alleged:
The Board also alleged that Dr Ong’s performance and conduct was in breach of Queensland’s Drugs and Poisons Regulations and contrary to the Board’s code, Good medical practice: A code of conduct for doctors in Australia.
At a tribunal hearing in April 2016, Dr Ong admitted the alleged conduct, agreed that it constituted professional misconduct and accepted the opinions of the Board’s experts.
The tribunal issued its decision on 20 May 2016 and found that Dr Ong had behaved in a way that constituted professional misconduct. It noted her admissions and stated that:
‘There can be no doubt that in respect of the 12 patients ... Dr Ong provided services that were “excessive, unnecessary or otherwise not reasonably required for the patient’s wellbeing”, and that the clinical record keeping ... was deficient.’
The tribunal ordered that:
The tribunal made specific reference to the Board’s independent experts, one of whom commented in his report that Dr Ong had a history of prescribing narcotics in excess of approved quantities for patients registered (with the relevant department of Queensland Health).
The other expert commented that, “there was no excuse for a general practitioner not to be aware” of narcotic medication, PSE and benzodiazepines being “abused in the past and diverted for sale to other persons”.
The tribunal referred to the steps Dr Ong had taken since the initial complaints were made which demonstrated she had acknowledged her conduct, had insight and had minimised the risk of future misconduct.
The reasons for the tribunal’s decision are published on the AustLII website.