Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 28-November-2008, Vol 121 No 1286
Professional Misconduct: forgery and practising while suspended (Med07/60P and Med07/61P)
Dr David Spencer Gilgen (the Doctor), medical practitioner of Hamilton, was charged with professional misconduct following two charges laid by a Professional Conduct Committee.
The first charge alleged that:
While the Doctor’s practising certificate was suspended, he forged the signature of Dr Deepani Perera (his Colleague) on three standard prescription forms dated 30 March 2006 and 3 April 2006.
The second charge alleged:
In the period from about 27 June 2006 whilst the Doctor’s practising certificate was suspended, he ordered the following prescription medication from Unigen Life Science Pte Ltd, 583 Orchard Road, Singapore:-
The Tribunal found Dr David Spencer Gilgen guilty of professional misconduct for both charges.
The Doctor was a general practitioner who had a high profile in the community as a former Waikato District Health Board member, and because of his work with Maori health.
At the time of the events under consideration the Doctor’s annual practising certificate was suspended on an interim basis by the Medical Council of New Zealand. The suspension took effect on 20 September 2005. The principal ground for the suspension was the Medical Council had reason to believe the Doctor posed a serious risk of harm to the public by practising below the required standard of competence for a general practitioner, particularly with regard to his prescribing practices.
Reasons for Finding of the First Charge
The Tribunal concluded that it was the Doctor who forged the signatures of his colleague on the three prescriptions, having regard to:
When all these individual pieces of evidence were considered together, the Tribunal was completely sure to the very high standard involved in an allegation as serious as forgery, that the charge was established and the Doctor was guilty of professional misconduct.
Reasons for Finding if the Second Charge
The key factual issue with regard to the second charge was whether or not the Doctor sent the email of 27 June 2006 ordering the medication. He denied it and said that he had never sent such an email.
The Tribunal found the following facts indicated that it was the Doctor who had sent the email:
The Tribunal carefully considered the evidence given by the Doctor that he detested computers. However, the Tribunal considered the following matters:
Weighing all the factors indicating that the Doctor did send the email on the one hand, against his bare denial on the other, and having regard to the adverse conclusion which the Tribunal reached as to the reliability of his evidence, the Tribunal was completely sure that he sent the email. The Tribunal was satisfied that the facts of the charge were established and that the Doctor was guilty of professional misconduct.
The Tribunal considered that quite apart from serious prescribing issues, the Doctor had demonstrated outright dishonesty in the way in which he continued to try and obtain medications, and then denied he had done so. There appeared to be a behavioural issue in the sense that the Doctor appeared to have very limited insight as to the appropriateness of his totally unprofessional prescribing. It had occurred in 1989, to a significant and serious level; and there was a similar pattern in his offending 18 years later in 2005-2006.
The cumulative effect of these serious matters in the Tribunal’s opinion was that the public and the community clearly needed to be protected.
The Tribunal considered the Doctor undoubtedly has significant skills. It appeared that he was highly regarded by his patients, and the Maori community. He had contributed significantly to Maori health and to his local District Health Board. However, the Tribunal was satisfied, on the basis of the patient information before it, that patients would continue to try and seek him out, and have him supply inappropriate medications, which was a pressure that he could not deal with.
The Tribunal was satisfied the only responsible outcome was to order cancellation of his registration.
The Tribunal ordered the Doctor’s registration as a medical practitioner be cancelled and he pay costs of $10,000.00. The Tribunal directed that details of the decision be published in the New Zealand Medical Journal and on the Tribunal’s website.
The full decisions relating to the case can be found on the Tribunal web site at www.hpdt.org.nz Reference No: Med07/60 and Med07/61P.
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