Sunday 18 August 2019

Psychiatrist struck off over sexual relationship with patient he cut with a razor

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Stock image

Tim Healy

A psychiatrist who engaged in a sexual relationship with a female patient and cut her with a razor has been struck off the medical register by the President of the High Court.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly confirmed a recommendation from the Medical Council that the consultant psychiatrist's registration as a medical practitioner be cancelled with immediate effect for professional misconduct and "moral turpitude" over the relationship.

Since he admitted the misconduct, he has wound down his practice and retired, the court heard.

His name cannot be published by order of the court in order to protect the patient.

She attended him for treatment for her bipolar disorder and/or being emotionally unstable as well as complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

When confronted with the misconduct allegations, he admitted he used his professional position to engage in an emotional or sexual relationship with the patient which was of an exploitative nature.

He also admitted what the judge described as an unusual allegation of cutting her with a razor in 2011.

The doctor did not appeal the Medical Council's recommendation, which was also in line with a Fitness to Practise Committee report, that he be struck off.

He did not attend court and was not represented.

David Holland SC, for the Medical Council, said the woman had initially agreed with the committee view the doctor should not be named to protect her and her young child, but later changed her mind. However, the committee decided it was in her best interests to keep it anonymised.

Mr Holland said she had also contacted gardaí to say she was not entirely satisfied with the way her case was being dealt with.

This was expressed in a way that was not entirely comprehensible and her precise desires in relation to what should happen in court were not really clear, he said.

She was still a highly vulnerable person, but the course taken by the psychiatrist in admitting the allegations undoubtedly saved her from having to give traumatic testimony, he added.

Mr Justice Kelly was satisfied the psychiatrist should continue not to be identified to protect her as publication would have an adverse effect on her and her child.

He said the misconduct was at the most serious end of the spectrum and warranted him being struck off.

Meanwhile, in a separate case, a number of former patients of a doctor who admitted working under the influence of opioids are to be informed about a decision to allow him to continue to practice under a number of restrictions, the High Court heard.

Irish Independent

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