Allegations of over prescribing significant amounts of Bezodiazepines

In this inquiry a general practitioner, who was in sole practice in an urban location, was alleged, amongst other matters, to have prescribed significant amounts of benzodiazepines to a number of patients in circumstances where such prescribing and medication was not in the patients best interest.

This matter arose following a complaint sent to the PPC by pharmacists in the area concerned in relation to overprescribing of benzodiazepines. The allegations against the general practitioners included:-

a) The doctor did not prescribe the most appropriate medication in accordance with the patient’s condition or best interest;
b) Did not take any or any adequate history from the patients;
c) Did not carry out any or any adequate examination of the patients;
d) Did not maintain any or any adequate medical records in relation to the patients.

At the inquiry evidence was heard from a number of witnesses including former patients of the GP and local pharmacists. The allegations were found proved (some were admitted by the GP) and the FTPC found that some of the allegations amounted to professional misconduct and other allegations, whilst proved beyond reasonable doubt , amounted to poor professional performance.

Evidence was also heard that since the events complained of, the GP’s circumstances had changed substantially. The GP had established practice in a provincial setting with a different patient profile.

The Committee found in relation to the above allegations that;-

  • Allegation a) was proved beyond reasonable doubt and amounted to professional misconduct;
  • Allegation b) was proved beyond reasonable doubt but amounted to poor professional performance;
  • Allegations c) was proved beyond reasonable doubt but amounted to poor professional performance;
  • Allegation d) was proved beyond reasonable doubt but amounted to poor professional performance.

The FTPC forwarded its report to Council and the Council, having regard to the findings of the FTPC and the evidence, together with submissions from the GP, attached conditions to the GPs registration taking into account, in particular;

  • Benzodiazepines prescribing
  • Management of patients with addictions
  • Approved clinical records systems
  • Referral of patients