Tribunal reprimands practitioner and imposes conditions on his registration

10 Oct 2016

The Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal (VCAT) has reprimanded Dr George Koniuszko, and imposed conditions on his registration after making findings that he had engaged in professional misconduct.

Dr Koniuszko has practised as an ophthalmologist for approximately 30 years. The allegations and the proceedings arose from treatment Dr Koniuszko provided outside that specialty during the period August 2007 to March 2012.

From August 2007 to March 2012, Dr Koniuszko wrote over 230 prescriptions for Schedule 8 drugs for a period in excess of eight weeks to eight patients, which included close family members.

On 9 March 2012 the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) received a notification from the Department of Health’s Drugs Poisons Regulation Group (DPRG) about Dr Koniuszko. On the same day the Board took immediate action and imposed a number of conditions on Dr Koniuszko’s registration. Immediate action is an interim protective action that can be taken by the Board to protect public health or safety.

On 6 March 2014, the Board decided to refer the matter to VCAT and the referral was filed with the tribunal on 10 September 2015.

The parties jointly submitted to VCAT that a number of findings should be made. VCAT made the findings that had been jointly proposed. The findings included that Dr Koniuszko engaged in professional misconduct by:

  1. Failing to comply with the Drugs and Poisons Act and/or the regulations. Specifically, it was found that he had prescribed Schedule 8 drugs without a valid permit, failed to keep adequate records in relation to the administration and destruction of Schedule 8 drugs and failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure that Schedule 8 drugs were stored in a way that prevented access by unauthorised persons.

  2. Failing to maintain clear and accurate medical records for the patients to whom he provided treatment for non-ophthalmological conditions.

  3. Failing to refer patients to an appropriately qualified specialist when it was appropriate to do so.

  4. Providing ongoing medical care to two close family members, including by prescribing drugs of addiction where this was avoidable and contrary to Good Medical Practice.

  5. Failing to facilitate the central coordinating role of a general practitioner by not communicating relevant information about treatment of non-ophthalmological conditions he provided to patients to their general practitioners.

VCAT reprimanded Dr Koniuszko and imposed a number of conditions on his registration. These include restricting him from prescribing, administering or possessing Schedule 8 poisons, benzodiazepines, Imovane, Stilnox, or Unisom sleep gel, limiting his practice to treat patients’ ophthalmological conditions only and not permitting him to provide medical treatment to family members.

The tribunal imposed a review period of five years from 1 April 2016.

VCAT’s decision is available on AustLII.

 
 
Page reviewed 10/10/2016