Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Nitschke (Dr. Death) left ‘high and dry’ without cover

Philip Nitschke
The following article was written by Byron Kaye and published in Australia's Medical Observer under the title: Nitschke left 'high and dry' without cover.

Recently Nitschke, in his newsletter, attacked Paul Russell, the founder of HOPE Australia and myself (Alex Schadenberg) for the complaint that was sent to the medical authorities concerning his false establishment of the "Max Dog" brewing company that has nothing to do with brewing beer but rather is a front company for causing death.

It appears that the physicians indemnity provider is unwilling to defend Nitschke because what he is being investigated for, has nothing to do with medical treatment.

The Medical Observer article stated:

Euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke says he has been “hung out to dry” by his indemnity provider after it refused him support for an AHPRA investigation on the basis that the activities being scrutinised had nothing to do with medicine.

Dr Nitschke told MO he went to Medical Indemnity Group Australia (MIGA) seeking assurance it would cover his legal support during an AHPRA investigation into claims he “may not be a fit and proper person to hold registration as a medical practitioner”.

The complaint came from anti-euthanasia campaigner Paul Russell, who wrote to AHPRA that Dr Nitschke’s advocacy of hypoxic death using inhaled nitrogen from purpose-designed gas cylinders had “overstepped the bounds of reasonable beha­viour”.

Dr Nitschke said AHPRA launched its investigation within three days of receiving the complaint despite it being based on a “conservative, religiously driven set of allegations”. He maintains his pro-euthanasia activities are legal.

“When I went to medical defence over this saying ‘this strikes me as a bit much and it’s something I would expect a bit of support for’, they just ran for cover and said ‘it’s nothing to do with us because you weren’t practising medicine’,” he said. “You’re sort of left hung out to dry.

“I don’t know if many doctors including myself would have had any idea about this little known ability to make a character decision on your legal activities.

“When you go to your medical defence and they just walk away and say ‘this is nothing to do with us because it’s not medical’ you think, what have I got medical insurance for anyway, if they’re just going to [deny cover] on these so called character assessments?”

MIGA managing director Mandy Anderson said AHPRA had broad powers designed to protect the public so its investigations “may extend into areas that go beyond what a doctor does in their medical practice”.

At the same time, she said, MIGA  covered doctors from risks that arose in their medical practice, and if they had a separate business they would need separate insurance.

Dr Nitschke’s policy did not provide him cover during the AHPRA investigation because it concerned “the development, marketing and sale of an apparatus for suicide which is not part of the practice of medicine by a GP and which MIGA therefore also does not insure”.

“Our members can be very confident we will support them if investigated by AHPRA for matters that relate to their practice of medicine for which they are insured with us,” she said.

AHPRA was unable to comment on individual matters.

Dr Nitschke said he would defend his registration using lawyers acting on a pro bono basis.

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