A psychiatrist who repeatedly brought religion into the therapy room has been disqualified for inappropriate treatment of his patients. The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal barred Alexander Anthony Sharah from registering as a medical practitioner for two years after they made a finding of unsatisfactory professional conduct.The tribunal stated that while an exploration of a patient’s religious beliefs might be necessary for treatment or diagnoses, in these cases, “the practitioner was pressing his religious beliefs on patients in a proselytising way”.
We examine the legal ramifications of the treatment received by patients of Sharah and how this could potentially lead to claims for compensation by his patients.
Mental Health Professionals' Duty of Care to YouPsychiatrists have a duty of care to their patients to provide advice, care and treatment. The care provided should be of a standard that would be widely accepted by peer professional opinion as competent professional practice. Failure to provide such a standard may lead to a negligence claim being brought by their patient, and even disqualification from registering as a medical practitioner.
For a claim to be successful against Sharah his patient/s would have to prove:
- that his treatment of them fell below a reasonable standard of care; and
- that as a result of this they suffered damage.
- Treatment fell below a reasonable standard of care
- As a result of this failure they suffered damage
So any claim for compensation made by the patients would be for the additional mental distress that his treatment caused the patient (i.e. not the medical condition that they originally sought his treatment for). This additional mental distress could be in the form of:
- an exacerbation of their current condition; or
- a new mental condition.
Your OptionsIf you are concerned about your psychiatrist’s behaviour or treatment you have the following options open to you:
- You can make a complaint to The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP);
- You can make a notification to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency;
- You can make a complaint to the Office of the Health Ombudsman (Qld).
- You can contact a solicitor in regards to the prospects of a successful medical negligence claim.