Doctor fined for self-prescribing opioids

A doctor has been fined and censured after trying to prescribe himself opioids twice while attending a conference at the University of Otago.

The doctor, whose name has not been released, prescribed himself the antibiotic Flucloxacillin, the allergy drug Loratadine and the opioid Tramadol while taking a surgical anatomy course at university in 2019 .

In a recently published decision, the New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal reported that after being refused tramadol, the man altered a legitimate prescription from a GP in an attempt to obtain medication.

He has been a licensed physician since 2017.

The doctor told the Tribunal that loratadine was to treat his hay fever and that flucloxacillin was to treat a flare-up of infection. The Tramadol was to treat an ankle injury.

He was taking supermarket painkillers but felt they did not manage the pain adequately as he stood and walked on his feet all day in the class he was attending.

The doctor said he went to see a pharmacist and asked if he could write his own prescription.

The pharmacist accepted and filled the prescription for Loratadine and Flucloxacillin, but refused the Tramadol.

Following the incident, the man visited a GP and was given a legitimate prescription which did not include tramadol, but after receiving the script he wrote 50 tablets of 50mg of tramadol.

He then presented it to another pharmacy, which was suspicious of the script and wanted to check it with the GP.

The GP contacted the Medical Council regarding the incident.

The doctor admitted to prescribing himself in the first instance and writing tramadol on the second prescription, but he did not accept the allegation that he knew the pharmacist was likely to believe that the prescription for tramadol came from the general practitioner.

Instead, he maintained that he had added his own prescription to the GP under his own name.

However, when he made the additions, he did not include his full name, Medical Board registration number or the correct date for the annotation.

The pharmacist to whom he presented the modified script gave a different story, which the Medical Tribunal found to be more believable.

He concluded that the doctor hoped that the pharmacist would believe that the Tramadol had been prescribed legitimately.

The doctor was censured, fined $2,500, ordered to pay 35% of hearing costs and incidentals, and given 18-month practice conditions.

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