GP reprimanded for over-the-phone morphine

The rural doctor was on-call overnight and failed to attend to assess the elderly patient

A GP on a night shift at a country hospital acted with “recklessness” when he ordered a high dose of morphine over the telephone for an elderly woman who later died, a Medical Professional Standards Committee has found.

The patient, a 79-year-old woman, had just started chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer but died after becoming unresponsive the day following her admittance to Corowa Hospital in southern NSW.

A local doctor was the VMO on duty at the hospital when the patient attended for care in January 2015 and was the on-call doctor overnight.

He was found guilty of unsatisfactory professional misconduct for prescribing an excessive amount of subcutaneous morphine over the phone, for failing to attend and assess the patient, and for failing to urgently transfer the woman to a larger hospital when her condition deteriorated.

He first assessed the patient when she attended the ED with