In 2006, David John Ellis, who is a doctor in Australia, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He had been practicing medicine for nearly 30 years at this point, and never had a patient complaint. As a result of this diagnosis, he was in formed by the Impaired Registrant’s Panel to limit his drinking to “social consumption,” and he would be subject to monthly blood tests to monitor his alcohol intake. The Impaired Registrants Panel was created to deal with impaired doctors in a constructive and non-disciplinary manner, hoping to ensure they are fit to practice medicine. The majority of these “impaired” doctors suffer from mental illness or substance abuse, although several of them have physical ailments. A doctor who treats another doctor for mental illness will often report the diagnosis to the Impaired Registrants Panel.
In December of 2008, Ellis was told to abstain from all alcohol, after admitting to the board he had been drinking more than the amount allowed by the Impaired Registrants Panel. In October of 2009, Ellis told the board he drank alcohol two times in the last six months because he was stressed about his elderly mother’s failing health. He also had a drink on his wife’s birthday. In 2010, he missed a blood test, as a result he was prosecuted by the Health Care Complaints Commission before a Professional Standards Committee.
Although his lawyer argued he had never had a patient complaint, the committee found him guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct for violating the no-drink order. The committee claimed to be “concerned with several aspects of Dr. Ellis’s propensity to abuse alcohol.” According to Ellis, none of his blood tests came back exceeded the alcohol limits, but he was prosecuted for his admittance. Doctor Ellis is still allowed to practice medicine, and he is also still required to follow the no-drinking ban. Read the full story here.
Image courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald .