Medico-Legal Newsletter November 2018

Tribunal disqualifies nurse for convictions separate to profession

A tribunal has disqualified a nurse for 12 months following a series of offences relating to possessing drug paraphernalia, fabrication of documents and breach of violence restraining orders.

Although not related to his profession as a nurse, the tribunal found the convictions were inconsistent with him being a fit and proper person to hold registration.

The allegations were that Mr Roe had failed to notify the Board of convictions, and that he had been convicted of a number of offences.

The convictions included breach of violence restraining order; unlawful fabrication of evidence with intent to mislead a court; and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Mr Roe had been ordered by the Family Court of Western Australian to undergo random urinalysis testing as a result of court proceedings relating to his children and his former partner. A condition of the order was that he was to provide a urine sample at a collection centre within 24 hours of being requested to do so.

Mr Roe was requested to undertake a urinalysis test. Mr Roe provided the results to his former partner’s solicitor. The solicitor was suspicious of Mr Roe and contacted the clinic at which the test was purportedly undertaken. It was then identified that the laboratory reference numbers provided by Mr Roe were not urinalysis tests conducted by him.

Later, Mr Roe’s home was searched under a warrant issued for an unrelated matter and police located seven glass smoking implements in the main living area of the address and a further nine smoking implements in his bedroom.

Mr Roe was sentenced to a conditional suspended imprisonment order for two years, suspended for two years and was fined $2000.

The Tribunal was satisfied that Mr Roe’s convictions, although not occurring in connection with his profession as a nurse, were inconsistent with him being a fit and proper person to hold registration in the nursing profession.

In the end, Mr Roe was disqualified for applying for registration for a period of 12 months and was reprimanded. When reapplying, Mr Roe would need to demonstrate that he is fit for resuming practice.

Doctor deregistered and disbarred for professional misconduct

A tribunal has cancelled a medical practitioner’s registration and disbarred her for four years after finding she had engaged in professional misconduct relating to drug use.

In 2012, registered nurses employed by Dr Waldron made notifications to DDU and AHPRA about Dr Waldron, describing a series of events relating to entries in the controlled drugs register and the unexplained and unrecorded removal of ampoules of controlled drugs from the controlled drugs cupboard.

Dr Waldron surrendered the endorsement for controlled drugs and the Board decided to impose conditions on her registration involving, amongst other things, urine drug screening and hair testing.

The Board also required Dr Waldron to undergo a Health Assessment. Following that process, Dr Waldron was assessed as being impaired due to being diagnosed with an Opioid Dependence and it was noted that she met the criteria for cannabis use.

Dr Waldron admitted to self-administration of opioids. She attributed this to chronic lower back pain in addition to the stress of establishing and running a solo general practice.

This was the second occasion on which Dr Waldron had developed a dependence on opioids. She had previously been monitored for substance abuse for self-prescribing codeine for migraine headaches.

The allegations against Dr Waldron at the Tribunal included:

  • on seven occasions she self-prescribed morphine and pethidine and on nine occasions she self-administered a controlled drug, namely morphine;
  • on four occasions she failed to record and made false entries into the record book of controlled drugs;
  • she inappropriately stored controlled drugs, namely morphine, in a toiletry bag;
  • she sought to exert improper influence over an employee to not report a discrepancy in the controlled drug registered to DDU investigators;
  • she failed to comply with conditions imposed on her registration by failing to attend on three occasions for a urine drug screen; and
  • she provided false or misleading information to DDU investigators.
 
The Tribunal found that the totality of the conduct of Dr Waldron supported both an order for cancellation of her registration and a period of disbarment of four years.

 

Psychologist reprimanded for inappropriate relationship with client

A psychologist has been found guilty of forging medical certificates and been reprimanded for serious complaints of inappropriate professional conduct relating to a relationship with a young client.

There were two complaints against psychologist Catherine McKeehan. She was found guilty of forging of medical certificates.

The other complaint involved failing to observe appropriate boundaries whilst providing professional psychology services to a client during the course of her employment with the Department by entering into a personal and emotional relationship with the client.

Whilst the client was a detainee at Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre, she was in a personal and romantic relationship with the client. During that time she:

  1. provided the client with a mobile phone belonging to her but registered in a false name which the client listed under the name “Uncle Sam” with staff at the Centre;
  2. she received 64 phone calls from the client which were of a personal nature.
She engaged in a sexual and emotional relationship with the client in circumstances where:
  1. he was aged 16 years and 2 months when the sexual relations commenced, having been released from juvenile detention that day;
  2. she provided him with alcohol on the night of their first sexual encounter;
  3. he believes he has fathered a child with the practitioner;
  4. she did not place his name on the birth certificate as the father, despite his attendance at the birth and despite her informing him that he was the father;
  5. he lived with her while she was pregnant and after the birth of the baby, at the home of her mother in Queensland for approximately four to six months.
The Tribunal made the following orders in relation to Ms McKeehan:
  • she was prohibited from applying for provisional registration as a psychologist for a minimum of 3 years;
  • she was required to engage in therapy for a period of 12 months and provide a written report from her clinical psychologist, psychologist, or both when applying; and
  • she was prohibited from practicing in juvenile services for 5 years.