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Inquiries after unregistered doctor worked in SA hospital ED

An unregistered doctor worked in a South Australian public hospital emergency department for six days without notice, prompting SA Health and SA Police investigations and efforts to track down patients he treated.

May 04, 2023, updated May 04, 2023
Port Augusta Hospital: SA Health

Port Augusta Hospital: SA Health

In a statement a short time ago, SA Health said the overseas-trained doctor treated at least 15 patients at the Port Augusta Hospital emergency department between Monday, April 24 and Tuesday, May 2, before being removed from the premises.

The hospital is making contact with the patients to inform them of the incident and to discuss whether they require a follow-up appointment.

SA Health said the doctor had been working as an intern and had undertaken limited education sessions in Whyalla pending the arrival of his registration.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority and Medical Board subsequently offered the doctor provisional registration with conditions on May 2.

SA Health said it was not aware of any adverse clinical outcomes for patients while the doctor worked unregistered.

“The man had previously been registered and worked as a doctor in Australia and overseas, however he has previously faced disciplinary action,” the department statement said.

“Anyone who attended Port Augusta Hospital’s emergency department between those dates, and is concerned about the care they received, should contact Port Augusta Hospital and Regional Health Service on 08 8668 7500.”

A locum doctor supervising at the Port Augusta Hospital emergency department has been stood down over the incident pending a “full independent investigation”.

SA Health said the findings of that investigation will be made public.

SA Health has also referred the incident to SA Police, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority and other investigative bodies.

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“On behalf of our service, I apologise to all those patients who had contact with this unregistered doctor,” Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network chief executive Craig Packard said.

“This incident should not have occurred and I am deeply sorry.”

SA Health chief executive Dr Robyn Lawrence described the incident as “completely unacceptable”.

“That is why I have commissioned a full independent investigation into how and why this occurred to make sure it never happens again,” she said.

Health Minister Chris Picton told parliament a short time ago that he learned about the incident yesterday.

He said he had demanded “urgent action” from the Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network governing board to address “shortcomings in local processes”.

“To the patients of Port Augusta I assure them the government is taking this matter incredibly seriously and acting quickly to do everything we can to prevent such an occurrence happening again,” he said.

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