4 May 2010

High Court faults Privacy Commissioner's ruling

6:09 pm on 4 May 2010

The High Court has found that the Privacy Commissioner wrongly ruled against a doctor who told a nursing home one of its employees was a drug addict.

The doctor in question, Invercargill GP Robert Henderson, had asked the court for a judicial review, saying he believed the home's residents were in imminent danger.

In 2003 he rang the home and told the charge nurse that a caregiver who was on a methadone programme had asked for drugs at his practice.

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff subsequently found that Dr Henderson could not prove he had good reason for his actions and that he should have only told the home's manager.

In the High Court's view, however, it wasn't up to the doctor to prove the possible threat, and the court considers he told the person best placed to take action.

The Privacy Commissioner's office says it won't comment on the finding.

Dr Henderson says: "If it happened again, I would do the same thing again, irrespective of the cost to me, because at the end of the day you have to do the right thing."

He says anyone seeking drugs in a nursing home could have a field day with the drugs taken by elderly patients, who could die if their medication is taken away.