Doctor dodges losing licence

A FORMER prison doctor has narrowly avoided being stripped of his medical licence after he was found to have prescribed uncontrolled doses of opiates to drug addicts in Northern NSW, including a Ballina patient he supplied with morphine for seven years.

Dr Colin Jamieson was prosecuted by the Health Care Complaints Commission for unsatisfactory professional conduct on the grounds he had repeatedly prescribed Schedule 4D and Schedule 8 medications while counselling patients - at least 10 of whom were considered to be at "extreme risk of overdose death, violence and worsening psychiatric symptoms".

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard Dr Jamieson had been a partner in a medical practice at Bathurst since the early '80s and had regularly come across addicts during his time as a visiting GP at the Bathurst Jail where many of the inmates in the female-only X-Wing were on the methadone program.

In the years that followed, Dr Jamieson formed the belief that it was important to "chemically stabilise" a patient in order for them to function and "hopefully engage in non-medicated ways of interacting with their thoughts and feelings".

Despite not being relevantly qualified in psychiatry or psychology, Dr Jamieson went on to develop the "Wonderment Program", an amalgamation of cognitive behaviour therapy and psychoanalytical techniques" in 2005.

The tribunal heard Dr Jamieson was of the belief that "a lot of the time, drug dependant people were self-medicating with illicit drugs … to function and not for intoxication" and continued to prescribe addictive drugs to his patients after they had moved to other areas.

One Ballina patient, considered to be at risk, was prescribed morphine for up to seven years without seeing a local doctor or being referred to a specialist.

A senior doctor's report tendered in court found that the prescribing of medicine to a vulnerable group of people was "excessive and uncontrolled" and patients were at "extreme risk of misadventure".

After reading through the complaints, Dr Jameson admitted that his management and treatment of the 10 patients in question was "significantly below the standard reasonably expected of a practitioner of an equivalent level of training or experience".

Dr Jamieson was reprimanded and banned from treating patients with psychiatric/psychological symptoms and/or drug and alcohol addiction.

The panel also ordered that he be monitored by the Medical Council, Medicare and Pharmaceutical Services before being re-assessed in 12 months.

Topics:  doctor drug addicts

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