A Perth-based cardiologist is to be suspended from practising as a medical practitioner for prescribing morphine and other drugs to a former girlfriend.
The Medical Board of Australia is taking disciplinary action against Dr Paul Langton who is currently working at Hollywood Private Hospital.
He will be suspended for 18 months after being found to have engaged in professional misconduct.
In its decision, the board found from 2010, Dr Langton treated a female patient after forming a relationship with her.
Between September 2010 and August 2011 an intimate relationship continued between Dr Langton and the woman, who was 18 and 19 years old at the time.
During that time, Dr Langton provided medical advice and treatment to the patient, who has not been named by the board.
The woman was known to Dr Langton as she worked at the hospital.
Dr Langton told the ABC he self-reported the incidents.
He said he was “absolutely” remorseful and accepted it “was inappropriate to treat” the woman.
Doctor provided teen with morphine
During the relationship, Dr Langton gave the woman an injection of morphine for chronic back pain and wrote a prescription for injectable ampoules of morphine sulphate.
The board said that was not an appropriate treatment for chronic back pain in light of the patient’s medical history.
I figured out I was on a slippery slope and was doing the wrong thing.Paul Langton
It noted the woman’s history of illicit drug use, binge drinking, anxiety and depression increased the risk of addiction and inappropriate use of morphine.
Instead, the board said radiological investigations, mild analgesia and referral to a physiotherapist should have been the first line of treatment.
In December 2010, Dr Langton also administered some of the prescribed morphine to himself for a non-therapeutic purpose.
He also prescribed Cymbalta to a teenage girl to treat of depression and anxiety and antibiotics to treat suspected chlamydia. Dr Langton said some were “repeat prescriptions”.
According to the board decision, Dr Langton “admits that he behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct”.
The doctor said he was suffering from depression at the time.
“I figured out I was on a slippery slope and was doing the wrong thing,” Dr Langton said.
He said he accepted responsibility for his decisions and did not blame the woman.
Suspension and assessment by psychiatrist
The board will suspend Dr Langton’s registration as a medical practitioner from November 21.
Dr Langton will also pay the board a fine of $30,000 and will undergo assessment by a psychiatrist at four-monthly intervals.
He will also attend a clinical psychologist to receive counselling in relation to boundary management.
This year, 12 health practitioners across Australia have been suspended from practising.