Hospital chief backs US drug doctor

COLAC Area Health's chief has stood by an American doctor employed at the hospital after revelations his medical license was revoked in the US for cocaine and alcohol abuse.

Dr Keith Kolodzej had his Medical Residency Permit revoked by Indiana Medical Licensing Board in 2007.

He has been working in the Colac Hospital's emergency department since September 2009, a position he took up after completing two years work at a hospital in Townsville.

He also works at a Lorne hospital.

Dr Kolodzej's competency to practice medicine has been in the spotlight since broadcaster Derryn Hinch raised concerns on his radio program this week.

On his program, Hinch said he had spoken to the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana's Professional Licensing Agency in Indianapolis and they confirmed Dr Kolodzej had his licence to practice medicine revoked on August 29, 2007.

The doctor did not appeal the board's ruling and he is still prohibited from practicing medicine in Indiana today.

Dr Kolodzej had recorded several positive urine and hair tests for cocaine, Hinch said.

Colac Area Health's chief executive officer Geoff Iles said he had seen no evidence Dr Kolodzej was not able to safely practice medicine but after he was made aware of his past, the matter was referred to the nation's peak medical registration and accreditation body - the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

Mr Iles said Dr Kolodzej was registered to practice in Australia and would continue to work at the hospital until a formal recommendation was made.

"The message is that we have taken the matter seriously," he said.

"When I had evidence put in front of me that caused me to ask questions I referred that immediately to the proper authorities for investigation.

"There is no evidence, there has been nothing put in front of me that questions his clinical competency and judgement.

"On the basis that I have put procedures in place to have the matter investigated and with no evidence of poor performance or clinical judgement Keith continues to carry out his duties here."

The AHPRA yesterday confirmed Dr Kolodzej is registered to practice in Australia.

However, a spokesperson said it could only comment publicly on matters which may give rise to disciplinary action unless the matter had been heard in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.