GP apologises over ‘rough sex’ remarks to patient

Expert claims accused who ‘completely unnerved’ woman shows some signs of autism

“I unreservedly apologise. I messed this one up,” the GP told the Medical Council’s fitness-to-practise inquiry. File photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

“I unreservedly apologise. I messed this one up,” the GP told the Medical Council’s fitness-to-practise inquiry. File photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

 

A GP who is accused of making inappropriate remarks about “rough sex” to a patient has apologised.

Dr A said he was “truly sorry about the hurt” he had caused to the woman in his care four years ago.

“I unreservedly apologise. I messed this one up,” he told the Medical Council’s fitness to practise inquiry.

The identity of the doctor, his clinic and his patient were all anonymised by the Medical Council, which said it was in the interest of “fairness” that their names not be divulged.

The patient, in her 20s, presented at the clinic on June 4th, 2014, complaining of suffering mood swings and heightened irritability. She had a history of previous bouts of depression, as had her mother. She decided to attend the doctor after she assaulted her boyfriend. She also had a small lesion behind her ear.

The woman told the inquiry that she was “completely unnerved” by the encounter with Dr A and found it difficult after the incident to trust male doctors.

In the course of the consultation, the woman told Dr A she had punched her then boyfriend – now husband – in the face and had sought help as a result.

Dr A responded by stating that he was a black belt in martial arts and had taken his training so seriously that he could do 100 chin-ups. She found his behaviour “quite bizarre”.

She said he told her that if a woman wanted to have “rough sex” with him, he was afraid he would get carried away and hurt them.

She said he then asked her for her arm. She alleged he made a movement with her arm which he would use on women who want rough sex with him.

Giving evidence on the second day of the inquiry, Dr A said he should never have taken the patient’s arm to demonstrate a method to block a punch.

He said it was a “silly and meaningless” gesture and had no clinical relevance to what he was doing.

“I regret my actions. I have never done such a thing since and I will never do such a thing again,” he said.

He emphasised that as a sole GP working in his own practice, it was not in his interest to cause offence or upset to patients.

Dr A was examined by consultant psychiatrist Dr John Hillery on behalf of the Medical Council. Dr Hillery set out to determine whether or not Dr A had autism. He formed the initial impression that the way Dr A communicated suggested that he fitted on the autistic scale.

He tended to speak in monologues and not pay much attention to the people who he was engaging with.

“If he is asked a question, he will tell you all of what he knows about it. It is one of the diagnostic signs [OF AUTISM],” Dr Hillery explained.

He likened speaking to Dr A to accidentally pushing the print button on a document and instead of one page coming out, 20 pages come out instead.

He said his initial assessment suggested Dr A was inside the “borderline for further assessment” in relation to autism.

Further tests showed Dr A scored highly on the scale for communication issues, but not for any other issues associated with autism.

Dr Hillery explained that 70-80 per cent of people with autism are functioning adults with normal intelligence.

The psychiatrist was asked about the specific allegations relating to Dr A’s “rough sex” comments.

He recounted that Dr A claimed to have no memory of using such a phrase. However, Dr Hillery said Dr A then went on to expound at length on the subject in an “academic, intellectual and unemotional way”.

It was, Dr Hillery added, “too much information” and Dr A had not noted he was feeling uncomfortable about it. It was more of a lecture, he noted, than an interaction.

Inquiry chair Mary Duff said the members of the inquiry committee will deliver their verdict in public at a later date, but will not make public their recommendations which will be a matter for the Medical Council.