Euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke. Photo: Ryan Osland
The Medical Board of Australia has moved to suspend the registration of euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke over his role in the suicide of a man who did not have a terminal illness.
The board has asked Dr Nitschke to show cause why he should not be suspended in the interests of public safety.
"The board takes 'immediate action' as an interim step when it believes there is a serious risk to public health and safety that needs to be managed," it said in a statement.
"Immediate action is a serious step."
But Dr Nitschke said the board's decision was based on a media report that had been "selectively edited" and he would fight the action.
The ABC reported last week that the doctor supported Nigel Brayley in taking his own life even though he knew that the Perth man did not have a mental illness.
Dr Nitschke's actions angered the Australian Medical Association and mental health group beyondblue, which said he had an obligation to help the man seek psychiatric help.
But Dr Nitschke said on Thursday that Mr Brayley did not have a mental illness and was of rational mind when he chose to take his life, and the ABC was aware of this when it put together its report.
Mr Brayley approached him after a workshop and said he wanted to die because his life was falling apart, Dr Nitschke said.
"I said, 'Why don't you go and talk to someone?' and he said, 'Mind your own business'," Dr Nitschke said.
He learnt after Mr Brayley died that he was being investigated for the murder of his wife.
‘‘My relationship with him was certainly not a doctor-patient relationship. He was a person I had scant dealings with. He had obtained lethal drugs before he even talked to me,’’ Dr Nitschke said.
‘‘[Mr Brayley] made a decision his life was in serious trouble and the sensible thing to do, in his estimation, was to end it rather than go to prison for a very long period of time.’’
Dr Nitschke was seeking footage from the ABC to prove its report on Mr Brayley was biased.
He had 48 hours after receiving the tapes to make his case to the MBA.
The Medical Board of Australia took immediate action against practitioners 147 times in the last reporting year and 72 of them were subsequently suspended.