MEDICAL Association doctors are considering giving themselves investigatory powers to seek out and penalise colleagues who feed patients' drug addictions. Dangerous drugs guidelines being drafted by the Hong Kong Medical Association will provide the tools for an unprecedented hunt for doctors who sell drugs improperly. Committee members have tentatively agreed to set up a permanent investigations committee, draw up legislation if necessary, establish an expert panel to give evidence in court and penalise doctors who breach the guidelines. Association spokesman Dr So Kai-ming said the decisions were still on the drawing board and invited contributions to the discussions. 'The implications are tremendous, because for the first time the medical profession will be taking investigatory action,' Dr So said. 'We think there should be a committee to look into suspected doctors' records.' Such a committee could conduct searches barred to the regulatory Medical Council, which acts on patients' complaints to charge, judge and either discipline or clear doctors accused of professional misconduct. Most of its cases involve selling sick leave certificates, working in association with beauty parlours or failing to keep records of dangerous drugs - often a euphemism for selling addictive drugs. The proposed association guidelines would set up an expert committee to testify in court when a doctor was found to have breached usual drug-dispensing practices. 'It shows to a judge that all doctors have been told 'this is the way to do it', and if they do things differently they will have to explain themselves,' Dr So said. 'We are not limiting ourselves to dangerous drugs in the ordinance. We are also concerned about the soft drugs taken by youths - we'll try to make it as comprehensive as possible. 'It's not only hard opiates. There are people using sleeping pills, giving them to youths who believe if they take them, they may get high. But if you take them for two or three weeks you can be addicted.' The guidelines would serve three purposes - as an educational guide, a tool of evidence proving a doctor had veered from usual practice, and as regulations which could be enforced. 'We must be very careful because there are a lot of ramifications - it changes the whole aspect of professional discipline,' Dr So said. 'I'm particularly concerned about policing. In our profession we like to have as much privacy as possible. 'This time we're only dealing with dangerous drugs, for the good of the community, but in future there could be extensions into other areas where it would be difficult to balance privacy and public good.' Dr So said the question of where the committee would receive its initial information before starting an investigation was proving 'very sensitive'. Some information could be passed on through personal animosities or other reasons, he acknowledged. 'It's a matter we would like to consider further. There's no consensus of opinion but we need to be very careful.' The guidelines could be completed within one to two months and ready for implementation early next year. 'This is a step, anyway, and at least it shows that the medical profession is concerned about the problem,' Dr So said.