New Zealand doctor suspended for illegally prescribing abortion drug

cytotecby Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent
Reposted from

AUCKLAND, NZ, August 1, 2013 ( – A New Zealand doctor has been suspended from practice for six months after being found guilty of illegally prescribing misoprostol, a drug used in medical abortions.

The Health Practitioner’s Disciplinary Tribunal’s decision came after it was found that three of his patients’ abortions were illegal, breaching the Contraception, Sterilization and Abortion Act of 1977.

It was revealed that the doctor, whose name has been suppressed, gave one patient 56 tabs of misoprostol (Cytotec), another 16, eight to a third patient, and a fourth got two tablets.

In all four cases, the doctor failed to document the prescriptions in the patient’s clinical notes.

The Tribunal was told that the doctor failed to determine the viability of the pregnancy or to exclude the possibility of a pregnancy being ectopic. Neither did she ensure adequate support was available to the women.

A nurse, who had been instructed by the doctor on the telephone to dispense the prostaglandin without seeing the woman first, was found guilty of professional misconduct.

In addition to the suspension, it is recommended that the doctor be prohibited from prescribing or supplying misoprostol to patients for three years after she resumes her practice.

In addition, the doctor must attend regular peer group meetings and note taking courses. She is also required to disclose the charges to all current and future employers.

According to John Tait, chairman of the New Zealand Committee, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, misoprostol is used in New Zealand to soften the cervix prior to dilatation and curettage (D&C) for miscarriage or termination of pregnancy.

He also noted that while misoprostol is used for inducing labor overseas, it is not used for that purpose in New Zealand.

The usual dosage used in a surgical setting would be 800 micrograms, which equals four tablets.

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