Dr ‘DAC’ – Professional misconduct

30 Jun 2017

The Health Care Complaints Commission prosecuted a complaint against Dr ‘DAC’, a specialist neurosurgeon before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘the Tribunal’). The complaint alleged unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct in relation to Dr DAC’s use of illicit drugs in a social capacity - including GHB, ecstasy and cocaine - between early October 2012 and 23 February 2013. The allegations included that he used illicit drugs outside work when he could have been called in for an emergency and gave misleading evidence to the Commission and the Medical Council by denying withdrawal symptoms following use of GHB.

The complaint also included allegations that Dr DAC developed a close personal relationship with a junior neurosurgeon, Dr A. It was alleged that while working together, Dr A and Dr “DAC” used the illicit drugs GHB, ecstasy and cocaine in a social context on weekends. The complaint included that Dr DAC:

  • failed to encourage Dr A to seek professional help;
  • failed to notify Dr A’s superiors at the hospital of Dr A’s drug use;
  • inappropriately prescribed Temazepam and Propranolol to Dr A;

Dr A was found deceased on 21 April 2013, having overdosed on self- administered heroin.

Decision  

The Tribunal was satisfied that “Dr DAC’s use of GHB, cocaine and ecstasy detrimentally affected his capacity to practise due to the physical and psychological effects of the drugs”. Furthermore, it found that “knowing Dr A was consuming illicit drugs as specified in the complaint, it was incumbent upon him to report Dr A”. Noting the limited insight demonstrated by Dr DAC, the Tribunal found Dr DAC guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct and made the following orders:

  • That Dr DAC is suspended for a period of 3 months
  • That upon expiry of the 3 month suspension, Dr DAC is to be subject to a number of conditions on his practise including treatment and monitoring by an addiction specialist; not to prescribe or administer any Schedule 4D or 8 Drug; attend weekly meetings of Doctors in Recovery Group or Narcotics Anonymous; continue random urine drug testing; and engage in a period of mentoring as approved by the Medical Council of NSW.

Further Information

The full decision is available at NSW Caselaw  

For further information, contact the Executive Officer of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 9219 7444 or send an email to media@hccc.nsw.gov.au.

The information in this media release is correct at the time of publication. Orders may change; for example, conditions may no longer apply. For current information regarding the status of a registered health practitioner, including any conditions that currently apply, please check the National Register at www.ahpra.gov.au.