Doctor on duty fails breathalyser test

A doctor training to be an anaesthetist is facing disciplinary action after failing to stay sober at work.

Doctor Phoebe Rose Streat had been re-admitted to the Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) trainee anaesthetist programme in February 2013 on the condition that she consumed no alcohol inside or outside the workplace after an incident in 2008 when she was drunk at work.

She is facing two charges of professional misconduct after being charged with drink-driving and failing a breathalyser test at work after re-joining the training programme in 2013.

Supervisor of Training for Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) Doctor Sarah Nicolson told a Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal hearing today that she escorted Dr Streat out of an operating theatre at Auckland City Hospital when she could smell alcohol on her breath and she appeared drunk in August 2008.

Dr Streat moved to Australia after not sitting her final exams with ANZCA.

In September 2012 she approached ADHB, saying she was now sober and ready to return to the trainee programme.

She did not tell her potential employer that she was facing a charge of drink-driving at the same time.

The tribunal heard evidence from the clinical director of anaesthesia for ADHB Dr Charles Bradfield that he felt it was necessary to take steps to protect other staff and patients from Dr Streat's condition.

He told the tribunal how Dr Streat let her colleagues know that she had an alcohol problem, that she was now sober and ready to return to work.

Dr Bradfield drew up a contract that would ensure Dr Streat was breathalysed before each shift and at a midway point during the shift.

Six days after she started back at work Dr Streat failed a breathalyser test.

"I was incredulous that she had failed the test, and initially wondered whether there was something wrong with the breathalyser, so I repeated the test," Dr Bradfield said.

The second test also returned positive.

"Throughout this, Dr Streat absolutely denied to my face that she had been drinking."

Dr Streat was stood down and invited to attend a disciplinary meeting. She resigned from work on March 6, saying the positive test came as a shock to her and she admitted to having consumed three drinks the night before the positive test was taken.

The tribunal hearing continues.