Doctor's reprimand publicly recorded

A YEPPOON doctor, who treated an amphetamine-dependent patient with pseudoephedrine, will have a reprimand publicly recorded.

But the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal dismissed a proposed registration suspension after finding Dr Mark Sykes had been exploited by the patient and it was the first blemish on his 30-year medical history.

Judge Fleur Kingham said Medical Board of Australia had prohibited Sykes from prescribing any restricted drugs or poisons containing pseudoephedrine, proposed a nine to 12-month suspension and suggested further training in dealing with drug-dependent patients after receiving information from Queensland Health.

The QCAT deputy president found the penalty, which was referred to the tribunal for consideration, was "excessive".

Dr Sykes had been treating a patient who had frontal lobe damage from an organic brain injury and was suffering impulse control deficits often associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

He had treated the patient and his family for many years and knew the patient was still actively using intravenous drugs while he treated him with pseudoephedrine, which is a common ingredient in the illicit drug speed.

Judge Kingham said Dr Sykes - who practiced in "relative isolation" in Yeppoon with limited access to specialists - sent his patient to a specialist but misinterpreted the recommendations.

She said he was aware of the inherent risk in the course he adopted and was conscious the patient associated with people involved in drug dealing.

"He took some trouble to control the patient's access to pseudoephedrine because of his concern he might divert it to other purposes," she said.

"He monitored the patient closely, he dispensed on a weekly basis.

"Nevertheless, it should have become evident to Dr Sykes that the patient was exploiting his willingness to prescribe (the drug).

"Over time the dosing escalated and the frequency of prescriptions increased.

"Dr Sykes had a genuine but misguided clinical purpose in prescribing pseudoephedrine to the patient.

"He did seek specialist input … but misinterpreted the advice he was given.

"Dr Sykes accepts his conduct amounts to unprofessional conduct.

"The tribunal does not accept Dr Sykes's conduct was substantially below the relevant standard."

Judge Kingham said a reprimand was a more "appropriate" sanction given the treatment length and his failure to respond to clear signs the regime was being exploited by the patient.

"It is incumbent on Dr Sykes to ensure that he maintains knowledge of and makes use of current sources of advice and assistance," she said.

"These proceedings, no doubt, have reinforced the importance of doing so."



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