Mandurah veterinary surgeon prescribed diazepam for animals, then used them herself

File photo.
File photo.

A temporary locum veterinary surgeon at Halls Head Small Animal Clinic prescribed drugs for animals and then used them herself.

Katherine Elizabeth Jean Barker was found guilty of unprofessional conduct by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) on October 31.

The Veterinary Surgeons’ Board of Western Australia claimed Dr Barker made clinical records for the supply of Diazepam on seven occasions when she knew they were false.

Dr Barker diverted Diazepam which she falsely recorded to herself for use when self-administering.

The board claimed Dr Barker forged another veterinary surgeon’s signature on a prescription.

Dr Barker purchased Diazepam when she was not authorised.

It was also alleged Dr Barker tried to cover up making a false record by asking a nurse at Mandurah South Veterinary Clinic to provide false information if questioned.

Dr Barker no longer works at the Mandurah clinic and lives interstate.

Dr Barker did not participate in the SAT proceedings. Originally she was contactable by email, but soon stopped responding.

The tribunal was satisfied Dr Barker had a fair opportunity to participate in proceedings but had chosen not to.

Dr Barker admitted to all the allegations in her statutory declaration on January 4 and substantially agreed with the allegations in a Department of Health interview.

On November 15, 2017, Dr Barker imported 60 Diazepam tablets from India and 120 tablets from Romania. The Diazepam was delivered to the clinic and seized by the Department of Health.

On the same day, Dr Barker sent a Facebook message to a veterinary nurse.

“I dispensed some Diazepam 2 or 5 mg to Frankie but took them myself as I was so stressed ,” Dr Barker said in the message.

“The Dept of Health is now searching my house for Diazepam but there isn’t any here.

“Can you please tell them that you got those tablets?

“I am so sorry to drag you into this, but they might call.”

In her statutory declaration, Dr Barker said she was dependent on Diazepam and was previously addicted.

Dr Barker had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.

The tribunal found disciplinary matters existed. The board has until November 20 to file submissions for the orders and penalty. Dr Barker has until December 11 to file submissions.

Halls Head Small Animal Clinic owner Paul Gendle said Dr Barker was not one of their regular vets.

“She was doing a locum for us and it was only due to our diligent record keeping of S8 drugs and regular auditing of clinical records that her drug use was discovered,” he said.

Dr Gendle said they reported Dr Barker’s drug use to the vet surgeons board and intercepted the suspicious parcel from overseas and reported it to the board and Health Department.

Dr Barker has been contacted for comment.