"Incompetent" Albury ear surgeon Roland von Marburg has been suspended from practising as a doctor for eight years after a tribunal found his prescription drug addiction had serious consequences for his patients.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found there were 18 instances of proven clinical incompetence between 2008 and 2016.
These included conducting surgeries when they were not justified, putting the health and hearing of his patients at risk in the process.
On 11 occasions in 2012 and 2013, von Marburg submitted admission forms to Albury Wodonga Health and made claims to Medicare without the consent of his patients, and some were not aware of the seriousness of the surgeries conducted until after they were completed.
After surgery in July 2013, one patient spent the night in intensive care after coming out of surgery with abnormally low levels of oxygen in the blood and high blood pressure.
But von Marburg sent a letter to the patient's GP saying his recovery had been unremarkable.
The tribunal also found the surgeon was impaired by self-prescribing drugs.
"The evidence establishes that he has been addicted, initially to pethidine, and thereafter to codeine and temazepam," the tribunal decision stated.
"The practitioner purportedly prescribed codeine and temazepam to certain patients with whom he had a special relationship between April 2012 and 2016, but the practitioner conceded that most of the medication was for his own personal use.
"In that period, 8940 codeine tablets and 2925 temazepam tablets were prescribed by the practitioner."
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Von Marburg had failed to consult a drug counsellor, despite being directed to after his drug issues had been addressed in the past.
He denied all the allegations of misconduct in a statement sent to the tribunal, but did not give evidence in the hearing, which ran for 13 days in May.
"The tribunal records its strong suspicion that it has been the practitioner's consumption of drugs which has caused him to depart from the accepted practices of his specialty," the decision stated.
"The tribunal is gravely concerned that, in view of this history, should the practitioner make an application for re-registration, the public could be placed at risk."
Von Marburg argued the proceedings should be thrown out because he had not practiced medicine since 2017, but the tribunal ruled it had to maintain the standards of the profession.
It also ordered von Marburg to pay most of the costs of the proceedings, despite his claim he had little money, because he refused to concede any allegations and forced the Health Care Complaints Commission to prove them in detail.
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