Dr Ian Douglas Steven


MBBS (Adelaide), MD, MPH, FRACGP, FAFPHM
Born 12 December 1945 - Died 2 July 2020

Ian managed to balance his academic, social, recreational and personal life in an exemplary fashion

Dr Ian Douglas Steven
Dr Ian Douglas Steven

Ian Steven was educated at St Peter's College and the University of Adelaide: he resided at St Mark's College, graduating MBBS in 1970, having won the St Mark's Collegians' P rize as outstanding undergraduate in 1969.

His devotion to life-long learning is reflected in his further studies, resulting in his MD, FRACGP, MPH and FAFPHM. His studies, and his text book Patient presentations in general practice: A comprehensive guide to diagnosis and management, were reflective of his interests and were directed to informing himself to enable him to practice with ease across a variety of roles and disciplines.

After graduation Ian travelled, within Australia, then to England. His adventures included driving a second-hand Land Rover to Ethiopia via the Sahara Desert. He worked as a doctor, volunteering in a famine relief project.

His interest in Africa was longstanding and he travelled widely, interested in its history and culture. He later donated a significant collection of artefacts to the South Australian Museum.


After returning to Adelaide, Ian practiced in Evandale, then set up his own practice in Collinswood and practised there from 1978 to1996. It was in this period that he gained his MD and MPH.

In the late 1980s Ian, as Director of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Research Secretariat, brought together the independent networks of sentinel practices of the state-based research committees. He expanded the project, leading to the formation of ASPREN, the Australian Sentinel Practice Network, in 1990.

As an aside from practice Ian was the winner of Sale of the Century, a quiz show in 1985.

Ian's professional life was rich and varied. Apart from his RACGP positions, he worked in a consulting role for Workcover SA, the World Health Organization, the National Health and Medical Research Council Drug and Alcohol Services, and the SA Health Commission (Health Depmtment).

He saw the need for scrupulous management of pain, particularly relating to work injury and his specialist practice in this commenced in 1990.

Ian's interests included gemmology and ornithology, which he shared with his wife Marg. They travelled extensively.

Ian is survived by Marg, his aunt, cousins and their families.

On a personal note I met Ian in John Martin's department store in the early 1960s while buying our undergraduate academic gowns. He was a year behind me. We formed a comfortable if not close friendship.

We had a shared interest in fishing, and also in quality of medical care.

While Ian was Visiting Medical Consultant for Workcover SA, I was Australian Medical Association (SA) (AMA(SA)) President. He obtained permission to discuss with me a disturbing pattern of Pethidine administration by a small number of doctors working for a deputising service which were billed to Workcover. Some of the patients had previously been opioid naive, and were not drug seekers.

I was then able to obtain information from the Health Insurance Commission which showed a similar pattern. The statistics were damning. The AMA met with the relevant authorities, and prosecutions and suspensions resulted. Ian and I were both aware that the damage done to many of the victims was not reflected in the leniency of the penalties, and our attempts to discover why were thwarted.

However, as a result of recognition of the growing problem of opioid abuse, the Medical Board eventually approved an AMA(SA) Committee into Pain Management report.

Pethidine, then commonly used for migraine headaches, was removed from the drug supply, eliminating it as a threat of i atrogenic addiction.

All this resulted from Ian's courageous and principled stand, despite threats to his personal wellbeing.

Ian managed to balance his academic, social, recreational and personal life in an exemplary fashion and was critical of my inability to emulate him. Had I done so, I would have spent more time with him.

Vale Ian.


Dr. Peter CJ Joseph, AM. MBBS, FRACGP.

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