Doctor becomes drug supplier for his patients
A SENIOR Casino GP's medical registration has been cancelled after he effectively became a drug supplier and prescribed thousands of pain killing drugs to drug-dependent patients.
The Health Care Complaints Commission cancelled Dr David George West's registration on Wednesday after the bulk-billing GP agreed he breached medical standards before a tribunal, at hearings on February 27 and March 1.
On March 22, the tribunal handed down its guilty verdict against the 75-year-old, who only kept paper records at the Centre St clinic led by his wife as practice manager with a client base of almost 3000 patients.
Evidence showed Dr West prescribed a 39-year-old patient scripts for 4560 Panadeine Forte tablets and 5800 Diazepam tablets between 2009 and 2015, and another patient was prescribed 3250 Valium and 1275 Serepax pills over one year.
Dr West "failed to respond" to one drug-dependent patient when he continued to write scripts for the woman despite becoming aware she was extracting Fentanyl from her patches to inject.
Dr West prescribed Oxazepam, Diazepam and Temazepam to a 61-year-old female patient without referring her to a mental health specialist despite her presenting with a dozen self-inflicted cuts to her arm after having sutures taken out for previous cuts.
One 30-year-old patient was prescribed high doses of the powerful pain-killer Fentanyl without getting a medical history, while a second patient was prescribed Valium in quantities exceeding the appropriate dose.
Dr West conceded to never publically expressing remorse for his actions, which also included over-prescribing drugs to a further three patients - one a suspected heroin user - without proper medical assessment.
In his defence Dr West said he'd learned from his mistakes; his de-registration would impact a large clientele of mostly poor and indigenous patients, and he hoped to practice without restrictions.
But the HCCC tribunal said Dr West's prescriptions of Schedule 8 drugs in combination with benzodiazepine could have caused potentially fatal respiratory depression for some patients.
The tribunal concluded it was "clear beyond argument" Dr West's misconduct was "of a most serious kind" and found him guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct.
"We understood the respondent to deny that he had placed any of his patients at risk and that he had fed their addiction.
"We are unable to conclude that the respondent is currently able to practise medicine safely.
"A reprimand, coupled with practice conditions of the kind contemplated, would fall so far short of any appropriate protective order as to fail community expectations."
Dr West cannot apply for a review of the decision for 24 months and was ordered to pay costs incurred by the HCCC in the case against him.
Dr West made no comment.