Negligent psychological diagnosis

Mr F had a complex psychiatric history and suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (also known as Multiple Personality Disorder).

He had suffered satanic abuse by his parents, and others, as a child.

He had been under the psychological care of the hospital for some time and was seen for the first, and only, time by a locum Psychiatrist for a medication review.

The Psychiatrist had been told of his history, however, during the appointment he asked Mr F a number of questions; including enquiring about his religion. The Psychiatrist told Mr F that there was nothing any doctor could do for him. He said that there were ‘special forces’ at play, that he was possessed and recommended a host of inappropriate measures.

Mr F was very upset and shocked by the Psychiatrists approach and described that he felt he had been abused. His Community Psychiatric Nurse who was in the meeting confirmed Mr F’s account of what had happened.

The Psychiatrist was dismissed from the hospital within days of the appointment and no longer practices in the UK.

A General Medical Council hearing concluded that the Psychiatrist was not guilty of misconduct and his fitness to practice was not impaired. Various findings of fact were made by the Tribunal. Mr F was said to be a credible witness, though some doubt was expressed about the degree to which he had been affected by the incident.

Liability was denied throughout however the case settled following negotiation.