A South Australian general practitioner registrar has been convicted of forging more than 40 prescriptions for opioid medications for personal use.

Key points:

  • Aidan Herbert’s history of mental health issues was taken into account during sentencing
  • The court heard he had struggled with isolation after moving to the Riverland and suffered from depression
  • The court was told that his actions undermined the trust of his colleagues and the community more broadly

Aidan Herbert, 41, pleaded guilty in Berri Magistrates Court this week to forging or uttering prescriptions between September 2021 and November 2022.

Magistrate Melanie Burton previously heard from the prosecution that the defendant was observed by a nurse acting suspiciously in an unattended office of another doctor.

This prompted practice partner and witness James McLeod to review Herbert’s electronic records.

During the review it was noted the defendant had been prescribed opioid medications by other doctors at the clinic, including Dr McLeod.

Magistrate Burton took a number of factors into account during sentencing, including Herbert’s lack of prior offending and his history of mental health issues.

She noted his issues dated back to the late 2000s and led to diagnosis of major depression following setbacks to his medical career.

The court was told that Herbert breached the trust of his colleagues and undermined faith in the medical system more broadly.(Felix, Rawpixel; CC0 1)

Magistrate Burton said Herbert had struggled with social isolation since moving to the Riverland and increased security around opioid medication meant he began forging prescriptions to maintain access.

She noted the offending occurred over a long period of time and involved multiple breaches of trust.

On Thursday Herbert was sentenced to three months and 19 days in jail and was fined $1,000.

The jail sentence was suspended and an 18-month good behaviour bond was imposed.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners said in a statement that community trust was crucial to the ability of GPs to deliver effective care.

It encouraged all GPs to seek support when required and to take care of their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

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Posted , updated