Tribunal reprimands and fines GP following unprofessional conduct

18 Oct 2016

Dr Almayne du Preez, a general practitioner has been reprimanded and fined after admitting that her management of a patient with Lyme disease or Lyme disease-like illness amounted to unprofessional conduct.

The Medical Board of Australia referred Dr du Preez to the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia (the tribunal) in January 2016. The allegations against Dr du Preez related to her treatment and management in March 2014 of a 17 year old patient who was suspected of suffering from Lyme disease.

When Dr du Preez first saw the patient, who displayed symptoms including fatigue, nausea, vomiting and aching muscles, he was also being treated by a naturopath who had recommended treatment with various medications including antibiotics. Dr du Preez implemented the naturopath’s treatment plans.

Dr du Preez referred the patient to a radiological clinic for insertion of a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line for the administration of vitamins. The procedure was carried out in early December 2014.

In late December 2014, the boy presented at Royal Perth Hospital with a headache, rigors and vomiting, and eventually was diagnosed with PICC line sepsis due to the growth of staphylococcus epidermis within the PICC line.

During the proceedings, it was noted that Dr du Preez failed to refer the patient to a specialist infectious disease physician or obtain any direction from any such specialist in relation to the patient’s symptoms, the question as to whether the patient had Lyme disease or a Lyme disease-like illness or the question of whether it was appropriate to insert the PICC line for the administration of vitamins in order to treat any such condition.

Dr du Preez admitted that she engaged in unprofessional conduct.

In August 2016 the tribunal ordered:

  • a reprimand
  • a fine of $1,000
  • Dr du Preez’s registration be subject to conditions which preclude her from:
    • initiating or continuing treatment for diagnosed or suspected Lyme disease or a Lyme disease-like illness unless the patient has first been referred to and seen by a specialist infectious disease physician registered in Australia, and that physician has given direction for such treatment to be provided; and
    • facilitating, or requesting, the insertion of a PICC line for the purposes of administering vitamins for diagnosed or suspected Lyme disease or any Lyme-disease like illness; and
    • Dr du Preez pay $9,000 in costs.

The reasons for the tribunal’s decision are published on the tribunal website.

Page reviewed 18/10/2016