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Doctor prescribed sedatives for up to 28pc of his patients

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A DOCTOR who prescribed benzodiazepines to more than a quarter of the patients in his practice has been found guilty of poor professional performance.

The national rate of prescribing the highly addictive drugs is 4pc, a Medical Council inquiry has heard.

Dr David Murphy of Curraheen, Co Cork admitted to four-of-the-five allegations brought against him at a fitness to practice inquiry.

The inquiry heard that Dr Murphy told a local pharmacist that he feared for his own safety if he refused to prescribe the sedative drugs to patients at his clinic in Cathedral Road, Gurranabraher, in Cork city.

The inquiry was told a neighbour of the clinic complained that patients were openly selling prescriptions nearby.

Dr Murphy's barrister Shane Murphy SC said the clinic closed in 2012 and his client had given an undertaking not to return to private practice.

Dr Murphy (66) is now working for the Department of Social Protection, examining applicants for medical assistance, he is also engaged as a forensic examiner for the Garda sexual assaults unit in Cork.

He said Dr Murphy was willing to give an undertaking never to prescribe medication again.

Dr Murphy was found guilty of poor professional performance for prescribing drugs in quantities and/or strengths which were inappropriate; for failing to refer one or more of the patients to a specialist substance misuse practitioner or drug treatment centre; for failing to take any or adequate history prior to or during the treatment of one of more patients and for failing to maintain adequate medical records in relation to one of more of his patients.

Professor Tom Fahy estimated that the percentage of Dr Murphy's 819 patients receiving benzodiazepines was 28pc.

Shane Murphy SC said treating Dr Murphy's particular cohort of patients was an extremely stressful and isolating experience.

He added there was no suggestion of dishonourable conduct and nothing in the evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that individuals suffered harm.

The fitness to practice committee's report will now be forwarded to the board of the Medical Council which will decide what sanction, if any, Dr Murphy should face.

Irish Independent