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Pharmacist’s registration cancelled for professional misconduct

02 Feb 2017

A registered pharmacist has had his registration cancelled and been disqualified for reapplying for three years for behaving in a way that constitutes professional misconduct.

The Pharmacy Board of Australia (the Board) referred Gyu Sung Lee to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) in March 2016. The matter concerned his conduct as a registered pharmacist in 2013 and 2014. Later, Dr Lee graduated with a medical degree and at the time of the Board’s referral held registration as a pharmacist and as a medical practitioner.

The Board alleged Dr Lee engaged in professional misconduct and/or unprofessional conduct as defined under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state in territory (the National Law). In particular, it alleged Dr Lee engaged in an unlawful and dishonest course of conduct by:

  • misappropriating prescription pads from a hospital
  • producing false prescriptions and presenting the false prescriptions to various other pharmacists; and/or
  • dishonestly obtaining, or attempting to obtain, prescription medications for his own use.

In October and November 2014, Dr Lee notified the Board after he was charged with theft, dishonestly obtaining property by deception and possession of drugs of dependence. On 9 December 2014, he pleaded guilty in a Magistrates’ Court and was sentenced without conviction to be of good behaviour for six months with a condition he undergo psychological counselling and treatment.

Following his graduation in 2015 with a medical degree, Dr Lee was granted registration as a medical practitioner by the Medical Board of Australia following an independent health assessment and took up an internship from mid 2015 to mid 2016.

The tribunal noted that on 2 December 2016 it received information that Dr Lee had engaged in further offending. He admitted that in late 2015 he stole a prescription pad from the hospital he was working in and used it to write prescriptions for himself between 31 December 2015 and 23 July 2016. On 5 August 2016 the medical practitioner named on the prescription confirmed she had not written it following an enquiry by a pharmacist. The matter was reported to police and on 21 November 2016 Dr Lee pleaded guilty in a Magistrates’ Court to criminal charges relating to obtaining property by deception and possessing drugs of dependence. He was sentenced without conviction to be of good behaviour for two years.

Dr Lee has not worked as a pharmacist since March 2014 and had given undertakings to the Board and the Medical Board of Australia not to practise from 12 August 2016 in response to notifications about his conduct in 2015 and 2016.

The tribunal heard the matter on 19 December 2016. Shortly before the hearing the parties provided the tribunal with an agreed statement of facts and proposed findings.

In its orders dated 20 January 2017, the tribunal found during the events in 2013 and 2014, Dr Lee behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct as defined in paragraph (c) of section 5 of the National Law. It found his conduct warranted cancellation of his registration as a pharmacist and his disqualification for re-applying for three years was appropriate because:

  • the tribunal accepted the opinion of a psychologist that Dr Lee was at high risk ‘for at least the next 12 months to two years’, and the period allowed a buffer once that risk subsides
  • it gave Dr Lee an unambiguous message concerning the severe ramifications of his conduct
  • it delivers the clearest message possible to members of the profession as to the consequences of failing one’s professional obligations in this manner, and
  • it protects the reputation of the profession.

The tribunal’s decision is published on AustLII.

Page reviewed 2/02/2017