Medical practitioner reprimanded for unlawfully prescribing schedule 8 medicines

19 Jul 2019

On 9 May 2018, the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) referred Dr Ainslie James Hay Waddell, a specialist general practitioner to the State Administrative Tribunal in Western Australia. This followed an investigation into his conduct after Dr Waddell’s Schedule 8 prescribing rights were revoked by the WA Department of Health (DoH).

On 12 July 2016, Dr Waddell’s Schedule 8 prescribing rights were revoked by the WA Department of Health. In May 2018, the Board commenced proceedings in the tribunal by reason of Dr Waddell’s apparent poor prescribing practices.

An agreed term of settlement between the Board and Dr Waddell was accepted by the tribunal on 29 November 2018.

Dr Waddell admitted that his prescribing practices were inappropriate by reason of him having prescribed Schedule 8 medications in circumstances where:

  • he prescribed Schedule 8 medication to patients for a period in excess of 60 days without the requisite written authorisation from the DoH, at times doing so despite receiving multiple warnings from the DoH about his behaviour and after being advised that his authority had expired or application to prescribe had been refused
  • there was no clinical indication for the prescribing/quantities prescribed, and
  • he failed to seek addiction specialist advice or disregarded specialist advice in relation to prescribing high dose opiates.

Dr Waddell also conceded that he had failed to maintain adequate clinical records.

In respect of this conduct, Dr Waddell admitted that he had acted contrary to Good medical practice: A code of conduct for doctors in Australia by failing to:

  • refer patients to another practitioner when it was in the patients’ best interests to do so (section 2.1.4)
  • recognise and work within the limits of his competence and scope of practice (section 2.1.1)
  • maintain adequate records (section 2.2.3)
  • consider the balance of benefit and harm in all clinical-management decisions (section 2.2.4)
  • consult and take advice from colleagues, when appropriate (section 2.2.9)
  • display a standard of behaviour that warrants the trust and respect of the community (section 8.1), and
  • keep accurate, up to date and legible records that report relevant details of clinical history, clinical findings, investigations, information given to patients and other management in a form that can be understood by other health practitioners (section 8.4.1).

Dr Waddell was reprimanded for unprofessional conduct and had conditions placed on his registration that prohibit him from accessing Schedule 8 medication and which require him to submit to audits of his practice. He was also ordered to pay the Board’s costs of $14,900.

In reaching the terms of settlement, the Board accepted several mitigating factors in relation to Dr Waddell’s conduct, including (among other things) that:

  • he had an otherwise unblemished disciplinary history of over 50 years
  • at the time of the conduct he had been experiencing significant stressors due to a recent serious medical condition requiring surgery and other treatment
  • his long standing professional relationship with two nursing homes has been terminated resulting in a loss of practice which was of real and genuine pride to him and a consequent loss of income
  • he is held in very high regard by his peers
  • he had undergone relevant further education and development at his own initiative
  • he demonstrated appropriate insight and remorse, and
  • he had made early admissions of the relevant conduct and participated willingly and honestly in all investigations.

The final orders can be found on the eCourts portal.

 
 
Page reviewed 19/07/2019