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to think that a complaint against a doctor can't succeed unless there are independent witnesses?

(30 Posts)
wouldbemedic Sun 13-Apr-14 16:48:47

...or two patients making the same complaint?

I've recently complained to the GMC about a surgeon, a family friend, who saw me as a favour in my home for an extremely painful condition. He took a hand-written medical history, examined me, read reports by other doctors and agreed with another consultant who suggested administering a guided injection. He was willing to administer this. However, at the end of the consultation he stated firmly that Jesus Christ was the true healer and he treated 'the whole person'. I had no option but to consent. At least four long and gruelling consultations followed during which I was questioned in exhaustive detail about every area of my life from early childhood. Written homework was required. It was unbelievably invasive. My husband and I became very concerned about the lack of treatment but persisted because the doctor was 100% confident that his treatment would produce a cure. We thought it was cracked but we had nothing to lose. He talked frequently about a multi-staged treatment programme and planned to administer a guided injection at the 'right moment'.

During the last consultation, the doctor grew very adversarial and announced that I was in 'torment' because I was guilty of 'sinful thoughts and feelings from early childhood'. He 'requested' that I approach a close family member and ask them for forgiveness. This would produce a 'miraculous change such as I could not now imagine' to the point that an injection would be very successful. I withdrew from all this and made my complaint to the GMC.

Now it seems that the doctor has responded to my complaint by telling the GMC that he never saw me as a patient, offered no treatment and 'does not recognise' the descriptions of his words or manner. He says he never carried out an examination, other than that I 'pointed to where I felt pain'. (The truth is, he had me lie across the sofa and perform movements while he prodded and poked my very sore pelvis.) He adds that the complaint is the writing of a 'girl with huge literary ability but unfortunately a long psychiatric history from childhood which he knew of before he agreed to see me.'

I've suffered from depression in the past but no delusions, psychosis, or issues around truth-telling. I was never referred to a child psychiatrist although I did suffer from panic attacks as a teenager.

I'm now thinking that this may all be for nothing. Is a doctor able to get away with anything provided there is no one else in the room and the patient has at some point been prescribed antidepressants?

My husband was present a lot of the time and heard most of what was said, but he won't be considered impartial, will he? Given that the doctor has lied already, it seems unlikely that the hand-written notes will be handed over to the panel.

quietlysuggests Sun 13-Apr-14 16:52:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wouldbemedic Sun 13-Apr-14 16:57:12

I admit that I look back and think 'what was I thinking?' However, I come from a very religious community in a conservative part of Northern Ireland and went along with it because I was desperate. The condition I'm suffering from (severe pelvic dysfunction some years after pregnancy) is rare and treatment is scarce. When an experienced surgeon held out some hope, it was hard to turn down.

edamsavestheday Sun 13-Apr-14 16:59:54

It sounds extraordinary but that doesn't mean it isn't true. Might be, might not be.

It's confusing because you say he responded to your complaint by saying he never saw you as a patient, but also says he claims you have a psychiatric history that he was aware of before he saw you. The latter statement contradicts the first.

If your husband was present he can state that this friend was treating you as a doctor, surely? He may not be impartial but he can state facts e.g. he was there and saw x, y or z.

RandomMess Sun 13-Apr-14 17:02:10

I complained about my health visitor breaching my confidentiality twice, I had an independent witness - she spoke about my pregnancy to a colleague in front of my CM. I had not told CM I was pregnant - so I would regard her as an independent witness.

Anyhow it really didn't get anywhere, her word against mine. Only positive thing was that I got a much better HV out of it!

wouldbemedic Sun 13-Apr-14 17:02:22

My husband can certainly affirm the truth of the complaint, yes. But won't the doctor simply say that he's lying, too?

I'm assuming that the doctor heard about my depression through friends in the church, or through family. I have said he is a family friend.

wouldbemedic Sun 13-Apr-14 17:03:53

Glad you got a better HV, RandomMess. Sorry your complaint didn't get anywhere, though!

MiscellaneousAssortment Sun 13-Apr-14 17:05:07

There will be appointment records, receptionists, your dp's statement etc. there is already contradiction in his statements so I think it's highly likely you'd get a good outcome if your own statement stands up to scrutiny.

badbelinda Sun 13-Apr-14 17:06:13

I think I remember your previous post about this when deciding whether or not to report to GMC. I'm glad you have done. It's not surprising he's trying to defend himself but if what you're saying is true I'd be very surprised if you're the only person to have complained so you'll hopefully find you're not alone. DH is also a witness and the fact you've had depression and anxiety should have no bearing whatsoever. Well done for taking the 1st step and don't give up. I hate to think of him preying on vulnerable people.

WooWooOwl Sun 13-Apr-14 17:06:51

I think if you accept things as favours from friends, whether it be plastering, gardening or medical care, you also accept that you have no comeback if it doesn't work out well.

You did have an option not to consent, and it sounds like you had the option to stop what was going on at any point, even if it would have been difficult.

wouldbemedic Sun 13-Apr-14 17:11:01

Thanks badbelinda. It's very difficult to complain against a figure who is so venerated in the community.

miscellaneous - This surgeon doesn't practice within the NHS. He doesn't deny the visits to my home. He even admits to having asked me to prepare a 'log' which he used to identify where my 'main antagonisms lay'. I had no idea that's what he planned to do with it.

woowoo - Isn't medical care a bit different from plastering? They're obliged to act according to a code of conduct, aren't they?

iamsoannoyed Sun 13-Apr-14 17:21:32

You are wrong, a complaint to the GMC can succeed if there is not an independent witnesses- but it will be a case of his word against yours.

You say your DH also witnessed this- he can also be a witness (although you are correct, he may not be seen as truly independent, but his testimony may add weight to yours).

In the end, if the complaint proceeds to a full fitness to practice review, then it will depend on which person (the doctor or the patient) the panel feel is the more believable and whether the panel believe this to be a breach of professional codes of conduct. The panel consist of medical and lay people, BTW. There can be legal representatives too, if either/both party wishes.

It certainly sounds like this doctor has been highly unprofessional on a number of counts, and certainly is not practicing evidence based medicine (assuming everything you say is true). In fact, he sounds a little unhinged. I'd be surprised if he hasn't had complaints made against him before if this is how he behaves towards his patients (and if he has, this could count against him). As a fellow doctor, I'm fairly aghast that a fellow professional has behaved in the way you allege this doctor has.

What I can't understand is why you went along with it?

You say "you had no choice"- which is simply not accurate, I'm afraid. You could have said "no" at the 1st or subsequent appointments, you could have refused to answer questions, or cancelled appointments. You could have sought a second opinion. I'm sorry if this sounds callous- but I just don't get why you went along with something which is so blatantly ludicrous and which made you feel so uncomfortable, not to say suspicious.

wouldbemedic Sun 13-Apr-14 17:33:15

iamsoannoyed Thank you for this input. I was wondering if I should get legal representation. Do you think it would make a difference to my credibility?

I know it was insane to go along with the treatment. At the time, I was house bound and in constant pain. My GP had refused to make a surgical referral because I was suffering from a pregnancy related condition (despite my DD being 18 months old). My husband and I were strapped for cash and needed someone local. When this surgeon suddenly offered to help for free, and had such a positive prognosis, it seemed like a dream come true. And I've been raised to respect him in every way. My earliest memory of him is donating a huge amount of money to a jumble sale I held as a child. More recently, I was glad to see him at my wedding. It was really difficult to imagine that he wasn't above board, despite evidence to the contrary. For the last couple of consultations I was trying to work out how to withdraw from the situation without causing a huge amount of offence. I didn't feel very strong emotionally and I didn't know how else to access the guided injection he was promising.

Nennypops Sun 13-Apr-14 17:40:16

If he accepts that you were his patient, doesn't he have to have kept medical records? You're entitled to copies. Also I would have thought as a matter of medical ethics he should have told your GP - did he?

Can you disprove what he says about your psychiatric history by volunteering to let them see copies of your medical records?

wouldbemedic Sun 13-Apr-14 17:43:08

He did take notes. But if he's lying now, why would he hand those over? And if he's saying that he never visited me as a patient, then it would support his argument if there weren't any notes, as far as he's concerned.

He didn't tell my GP.

He said I had a long psychiatric history from childhood. That sounds very sinister but doesn't actually say much. I've already signed a form allowing the GMC access to all relevant records.

iamsoannoyed Sun 13-Apr-14 17:44:23

I forgot to add- I'm glad you've reported this to the GMC. If his actions are as described he should not be allowed to practice medicine.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sun 13-Apr-14 17:49:29

I'm glad you've reported him. He sounds very sinister. Whether you acquiesced is by the by, he is the professional and should not have agreed to see you if he felt he couldn't uphold the code of conduct. He preyed on your vulnerability.

I'm afraid I don't know the answer to your question but wish you all the best.

iamsoannoyed Sun 13-Apr-14 17:58:20

Having legal representation will not improve your credibility, per se, but they can provide you with advice and support regarding your rights/responsibilities and how the process works, as well as helping you in the actual hearing (assuming it gets this far).

Also, your past psychiatric history only has bearing if he was treating you in that capacity and this is related to your complaint against him (or if you had a history of vexatious complaints as a result of psychiatric illness or something similar).

I would agree with Nennypops- if he was treating you as a patient (even in a private capacity), then he should have medical records and under the data protection act you are entitled to have access to these, subject to constraints of the act. You may have to pay for access, and it can take a few weeks. If he denies having any medical records, but does not deny seeing you as a patient, then he is in a bit of a fix- generally speaking, both the law and the GMC take the view that "if you didn't record a consultation, you don't have an evidence that you did/did not do something". But if he admits he did performed a quick examination, as a personal favour, give his opinion and then suggested the most suitable person for you to consult (as opposed to providing on-going care), then he wouldn't be required to have medical records- although this kind of practice is generally discouraged for obvious reasons.

wouldbemedic Sun 13-Apr-14 18:50:54

candycoated - thanks!

iamsoannoyed Thank you for this. I think he's now trying to say that he treated me in a non-medical sense - as a faith healer or something like that. He's claiming he didn't do an examination, didn't make a diagnosis, didn't prescribe treatment - so the lack of notes would back that up, iyswim?

BasketzatDawn Sun 13-Apr-14 19:42:37

I think the GMC would take a dim view of a registered medical practitioner 'moonlighting' as a faith healer. smile It sounds quite iffy altogether and possibly some sort of professional misconduct would be the verdict, I'd have thought, with a warning perhaps? I'm sorry you've had this experience, OP.

wouldbemedic Sun 13-Apr-14 19:50:32

Thanks basketz. I feel monumentally silly smile

quietlysuggests Sun 13-Apr-14 19:52:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

spindlyspindler Sun 13-Apr-14 20:04:44

Flabbergasted that the first post on here suggests what you're saying can't be true (because we're not in America? Really?). It is definitely not unheard of in the UK for medically or otherwise professionally qualified people in the UK to use their position to push religious beliefs onto vulnerable people who see them as clients or patients to a greater or lesser degree.

Also, it is not true that your complaint won't be taken seriously by the GMC without "independent" corroboration. Whilst it is sometimes easier to prove that someone is guilty of misconduct if there was someone else present and if that person is not related to either party and has no particular loyalty on either side, there are many cases in which bodies like the GMC are given no corroboration at all and just have to decide who they think is telling the truth - even when they are literally deciding between the patient and the practitioner and no one else was there at the time. If your husband was there and took independent notes and is prepared to give evidence to support you, then that is evidence supporting your account. If you haven't yet told the GMC about the fact that your husband was there and took notes, you definitely should.

Do not feel silly, by the way. You trusted him both because he was a family friend and because of his profession. He behaved very badly.

GiddyUpCowboy Sun 13-Apr-14 20:10:39

Get your GP notes and sent to the GMC, to prove you don't have the psychiatric issues he claims you have.

BasketzatDawn Sun 13-Apr-14 20:57:12

Don't feel silly. GMC 'rules' advise caution regarding relationships like this, you know where there's a crossover between personal and professional and positions of trust, and in all honesty it doesn't sound like he's taken care to avoid problems over (lack of) professionalism. Just tell the GMC the truth and let them work it out.

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