Imagine that you are baking when your
15-month-old daughter reaches out and
burns her hand on the oven door.
You rush her to your local GP, a woman
in her late 50s, who quiets the toddler
with an injection for pain, and another
for nausea, before dressing her burn.
Hours later you find your baby dead in
her cot. You and your daughter have just
become the victims of a drug-impaired
The Morphine injection that your child
was given was ten times the recommended
paediatric dosage, while the accompanying
Maxolon injection was five times greater
Your GP was charged with manslaughter.
She served six months of a five-year sentence,
made retrospective to the date of the
incident, and was released last November.
She may already have applied to have her
is a real case. Although the GP was
known to be substance-impaired for at
least two years; and had been monitored
by her medical board for that period,
she was permitted by that same medical
board to remain in clinical practice.
During this two-year period her identity
was kept secret, under medical board legislation,
in order to protect her anonymity.
Your right to freedom of fully informed
choice of a treating physician has been
usurped by a medical board apparently
more concerned with protecting its doctors,
than protecting the patients of its doctors.
There can be no doubt had you known of
this doctor's impairment and board monitoring
history; and had you also known about
the three ampoules of Pethedine which
were unaccounted for at her surgery that
morning; you would have exercised your
better judgement and taken your child
to another doctor, one who was drug-free
But because of legislated secrecy, you
had none of this vital information available.
In every State there is medical board
legislation in place prohibiting the release
of such information to the public.
Throughout Australia, it is conservatively
estimated that there are 5,000 substance-impaired
doctors working in surgeries and operating
theatres at any given time. This translates
to one in ten registered practitioners.
Can you be sure that your family doctor
is not one of them? No.
And it will further surprise you to find
that there are no pro-active initiatives
by any of our medical boards to identify,
treat, and rehabilitate doctors who are
over-using alcohol, abusing drugs or under
psychiatric treatment. Only doctors who
self-report or are reported by others
will be monitored and subjected to monthly
urine screening by their medical boards.
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