The doctor at the centre of the Queensland COVID-19 vaccine dose bungle was previously sanctioned over inappropriate prescription of medical cannabis.Sujoy Roychowdhury was banned from possessing or prescribing medicinal cannabis and was required to be supervised in any practice he worked at, The Australian reports.
Under his conditions, employers are required to file monthly reports to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to confirm he complies with the sanctions.
Dr Roychowdhury was employed via Health Care Australia (HCA), which was contracted to administer COVID-19 vaccines across NSW and Queensland.
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A spokesman for HCA told NCA NewsWire that while it was aware of the restrictions on Dr Roychowdhury’s licence, they did not bar him from administering the doses.
“The doctor involved in the nursing home incident is a registered medical practitioner on the APHRA register and there were no conditions on the doctor’s registration which prevented him ­administering vaccinations,” they said.
Dr Roychowdhury administered four times the recommended dosage to two elderly patients, a 94-year old woman and an 88-year old man, in Brisbane on Tuesday.
He was stood down after a nurse noticed and reported the mistake.
Neither patient suffered any ill effects, though the man had lifesaving heart surgery delayed as a precaution.
Dr Roychowdhury had failed to complete mandatory online training before administering the doses, and HCA CEO Jason Cartwright agreed to step aside while an investigation was launched.
The government was infuriated by the bungle, which deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd lashed as “unacceptable”.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was “very upset” over the error.
“This doctor had no training – now we have two elderly people that could be anyone’s mother or father, or aunt or uncle, that are now in hospital,” she said.
“I don’t want to see this happen again. Let’s make sure the training happens. It’s too crucial.”
HCA initially informed the federal government Dr Roychowdhury had completed his online training, before changing that advice.
The government was infuriated by the development, which forced Health Minister Greg Hunt to correct the record in parliament.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison played down the incident, saying while hiccups were unavoidable in any “vaccination program of this scale”, measures were in place to correct them.
“Where things don’t go completely to plan, they’re quickly addressed, as you’ve seen happen this week,” he said.
The comments came just hours before a second bungle was revealed.
On Friday, 150 doses of the vaccine were discarded because it could not be guaranteed they were stored at the correct subzero temperature.
The incident occurred after the doses were erroneously delivered to a Melbourne aged care centre, which received double the required number of doses.
A statement from the Department of Health said the level of vaccine wastage in the rollout’s first week was 0.15 per cent, far lower than expected.