Fergus Bruce Aitcheson, a Gisborne doctor is presently battling the charge of professional misconduct, slapped on him by the New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal for allegedly misusing the pethidine prescribed to patients till the point of addiction.
Dr Aitcheson began work with the Gisborne Hospital in 1997, and prior to that he was employed at Lakeland Health in Taupo where he was dismissed for abuse of narcotics. The doctor has a history of pethidine addiction and has blamed pressure in the work place as a reason for the drug abuse.
During the hearing, senior hospital doctors provided incriminating evidence of unwarranted prescription of the painkiller to patients. The modus operandi of the doctor was revealed - allegedly, the doctor would administer saline in place of the drug, in order to save the drug for personal use.
According to the evidence collected, nearly 40 to 50 patients were prescribed pethidine indiscriminately during October 2005 and February 2006.
Dr Aitcheson explained to the tribunal about the stressful environment at the hospital, especially for the senior medical staff, citing that as a reason for his pethidine addiction. Gisborne Hospital chief executive Jim Green and chief medical advisor Dr Bruce Duncan have completely denied any form of disturbance contributing to stress among the senior medical staff.