Pharmacist who claimed over $22,000 in fraudulent PBS claims is suspended by tribunal

11 Dec 2018

A registered pharmacist in Victoria has been suspended for six months after it was found she had engaged in professional misconduct.

The Pharmacy Board of Australia (the Board) referred Ms Dimity Hopkinson to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) after she was charged, pleaded guilty to and was convicted, in the Magistrates Court of Victoria (the court), of obtaining financial advantage by deception.

In addition to recording a conviction, the court imposed a fine of $7,500 and ordered her to pay compensation of $22,418.99 and costs of $136.50.

The tribunal heard that between 2012 and 2014, while she was an owner and operator of a South Melbourne-based pharmacy, she lodged 71 Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) claims with the Department of Human Services which contained false information and where the items were not dispensed to the patient or an authorised person.

The false claims resulted in fraudulent benefits being paid into a bank account associated with the pharmacy, totalling $22,418.99.

The tribunal made a finding of professional misconduct as Ms Hopkinson’s conduct was considered to be deliberate (fraudulent claims), was a breach of the trust placed in pharmacists by the PBS scheme and by patients, and considered that the conduct had the ability to undermine the public's regard of the profession.

Ms Hopkinson was reprimanded, suspended for six months and had conditions placed on her registration upon any return to practice. As part of the conditions, she must complete mentoring sessions with a registered heath practitioner on the principles of ethical professional conduct, including Medicare billing practices and the requirements for professional behaviour, as outlined in the Board’s Code of conduct.

Read the full decision on the Austlii website.

 
 
Page reviewed 11/12/2018