Doctor suspended over illegal use of abortion drug

A doctor with name suppression has been suspended for six months and ordered to pay legal costs of $29,000 for illegally prescribing a drug that can induce labour. She has also been banned from prescribing or supplying misoprostol for three years after resuming practice – an order that can be signed off only by the health minister.

In a summary released on Wednesday, the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal says the doctor acted inappropriately and contrary to the best interests of patients in prescribing misoprostol, known as Cytotec, to women in a way that was contrary to legal pregnancy termination procedures.

According to the charge sheet, the doctor prescribed and/or dispensed misoprostol (Cytotec) to three pregnant patients, resulting in abortions that breached the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977.

In one instance, she gave a patient 56 tabs of misoprostol without determining if the pregnancy was non-viable.

She also prescribed misoprostol to a fourth patient, and failed to document the prescriptions in all four of the patients’ clinical notes. The tribunal says there was professional misconduct in relation to four patients.

The tribunal says High Court orders mean it cannot publish details of the medical practitioner or certain other details, and that is why it has issued the summary.

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News category: New Zealand.

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