Dr Arthur Echano – Registration cancelled for professional misconduct

27 Apr 2018

The Health Care Complaints Commission prosecuted a complaint against Dr Arthur Echano, a medical practitioner practising in Taree NSW, before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘the Tribunal’). The complaint alleged unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct in relation to Dr Echano’s inappropriate prescribing of Schedule 8 drugs of addiction and Schedule 4D benzodiazepines, and his failure to maintain adequate medical records in relation to 12 patients. The conduct was characterised by:

  • A failure to carry out proper medical assessments prior to prescribing
  • A failure to make timely and appropriate specialist referrals
  • Prescribing for an improper purpose and in inappropriate quantities
  • Prescribing without an authority as required by statute; and
  • Failing to respond to drug-seeking behaviour.

Dr Echano admitted the complaints, and that his conduct amounted to unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct.

Decision

On 5 March 2018, the Tribunal found the complaint proven in its entirety. It formed the view that despite the practitioner’s steps to improve his practise and demonstration of remorse, he continued to present a risk of offending and remains unfit to practise. In its consideration of the matter generally, the Tribunal remarked that “Modern Australia has a significant problem with pharmaceutical drug misuse, diversion, and high risk prescribing leading to increased risk of harm including poisoning, overdose and death”, and that “it is critical to the protection of the health and safety of the public that doctors exercise sound professional judgment and adhere to applicable laws in prescribing opioids and other restricted substances.”

In its protective orders, the Tribunal ordered that Dr Echano’s registration be cancelled and that he be prohibited from applying for a review of the cancellation order for a period of one year.

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.