GP found patient 'beautiful'

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014

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A doctor who amorously pursued a young woman, after her discharge from a mental health unit, has been censured by the health and disability commissioner.

The young woman, referred to as "Ms A", left a community mental health unit in April last year after treatment for an eating disorder, depression, self-harm and substance abuse.

The doctor, called "B" in the decision, had been her GP since 2009.

He told the commission he found the woman "beautiful" and felt responsibility to help prevent any regression into her old symptoms.

As a result he gave her his personal mobile phone number when she was discharged, which he said he knew was "highly irregular and unusual".

But he went far beyond just trying to help. He sent more than 50 text messages to Ms A and asked her to go to a conference with him, which she declined, a decision published last week by commissioner Anthony Hill said.

He then arranged to meet her to give her a gift, under the pretext she had abnormal blood test results.

When they met in a shop, she found out the results were normal.

Inside an envelope, along with the results, were lollipops, a pair of earrings and a note: "Please keep the earrings. I'd like to see you in them one day. xxx".

Ms A was concerned about his behaviour and asked if she should move doctors. He told her she should not as he would never see her again if she did.

The texting continued and Ms A repeatedly said she did not want to meet him.

In one exchange, shortly before he flew overseas, the doctor told her it was impossible to stop thinking about her, but he did not want her to think of him as "some sort of weirdo".

Ms A again asked if she should change doctors, but he said he could not bear not to see her, while appearing to apologise for his behaviour.

"You deserve to have some handsome young gentleman come along and sweep you off your feet," he said.

"That will happen, of course. I want that to happen to you. I just wish that that young handsome gentleman was me."

Eventually she managed to change doctors and complained about B's behaviour.

During the commissioner's investigation, the doctor said he was "completely ashamed, embarrassed and mortified" by his actions.

Hill said the doctor failed to maintain professional and ethical standards, and his level of persistent contact with the patient constituted harassment.

The case has been referred to the commission's director of proceedings, a lawyer, who will decide whether to take further action.

The Medical Council has also been asked to review B's competence.

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- The Dominion Post

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