A COFFS Harbour doctor has been suspended from practising medicine following an investigation by the NSW health watchdog into the street-level sale of prescription-only drugs.
Doctor Cathryn Platt, 62, came to the attention of Coffs police after much of the Morphine and OxyContin circulating the local drug trade was tracked back to her private practice.
In a letter to the Health Care and Complaints Commission, police questioned the appropriateness of more than 1400 prescriptions written out to 12 of Dr Platt's patients between 2005 and 2010.
When the HCCC formed the view Dr Platt was "prescribing Schedule 8 and Schedule 4D drugs to drug dependent persons in excessive amounts", two misconduct complaints were filed with the NSW Medical Tribunal.
During her disciplinary hearing, a letter written by Dr Platt in 2011 revealed that "upon reflection", she conceded a number of the complaints were warranted.
One of the doctors charged with reviewing patient records was concerned "many scripts were apparently written by Dr Platt at the request of patients without evidence of the patients having been seen by her".
The tribunal heard Dr Platt had "felt sorry" for her patients and acknowledged she had "misguidedly believed that by issuing the prescriptions she did, that she was somehow helping those patients to cope but she now realises she had been prolonging their drug dependence in a way that could jeopardise them and cause them harm".
She told the tribunal she felt ashamed and devastated by the realisation she was breaking the law, had questioned her right to be a doctor and attended several pain management seminars since receiving the complaint.
The tribunal noted that while Dr Platt had undoubtedly undergone a "salutary, embarrassing and probably scarifying experience" and any protective orders would be "burdensome", the primary concern needed to be the protection of the public.
Dr Platt was reprimanded, suspended from practising medicine for three months and ordered to undergo counselling on a fortnightly basis.
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