Fitness to drive medical certificate improperly issued

In Medical Board of Australia v Andrew [2015] QCAT 94, the doctor’s patient had a history of epilepsy. The doctor certified the patient as fit to drive a motor vehicle. About three weeks later, the patient whilst driving struck and killed a pedestrian. The tribunal accepted that the incident occurred following a seizure.

The doctor admitted that this conduct constituted unsatisfactory professional conduct, however a finding of professional misconduct was made.

A fine was imposed and a costs order made against the practitioner. Orders were also made such that the practitioner was prohibited from issuing certificates of fitness to drive motor vehicles and required to undertake a course of education for managing interactions by doctors with difficult patients. That last order followed the Tribunal’s comment at [85]:

Nor do I consider that the patient being a difficult person to deal with, and one who was demanding and persistent in his request that Dr Andrew certify his fitness to drive despite previous refusals, provides any sufficient explanation for Dr Andrew’s conduct. Because of the centrality of the role of medical practitioners in providing the information to licensing authorities upon which licensing decisions will be made, it is essential that those practitioner’s do not bend to the pressure which difficult patient’s may exert.

With thanks to Associate Professor Tina Cockburn, for drawing this matter to my attention.

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