A DOCTOR, working as a locum in Staffordshire, told a patient to ditch her medication, including antidepressants, and instead undergo an exorcism in his local Pentecostal church.
According to this report, the unnamed patients was taken by Dr Thomas O’Brien to the church in Stoke-on-Trent where she was advised that:
God is her surgeon and God will heal her.
The General Medical Council has now imposed conditions on his registration for 18 months after it ruled that his professional and private boundaries became “blurred” and that he imposed his religious beliefs on the woman.
The conditions included confining his medical practice to posts within the NHS. He must also notify the GMC of any professional appointments he accepts and allow the GMC to exchange information with his employer.
The GMC was told the doctor had also sent her books about the church, which he ran with another person, and pamphlets including “An Occult Checklist”.
The woman said she was even subjected to a four-hour “testimony” where an exorcism was performed on January 19.
She claimed that O’Brien specifically told her not to tell her psychiatrist about the meetings – because they “do the devil’s work” – and told her “she would be cursed” if she told the GMC.
The patient ignored this advice and told her psychiatrist, who then rang a confidential helpline to report her allegations.
They were then reported to the GMC’s interim orders panel, who found that there:
May be impairment of Dr O’Brien’s fitness to practise which poses a real risk to members of the public.
A report on his case said:
The panel is concerned about Dr O’Brien’s apparent lack of insight into the seriousness of the allegations against him. It appears that he may have allowed his professional and private boundaries to become blurred, in particular with a vulnerable patient. The panel is further concerned that Dr O’Brien may have also imposed his religious beliefs with regard to the treatment of another patient.
Dr O’Brien admitted in representations to giving another patient a religious DVD so they could make up their mind about treatment.
O’Brien denied all of the accusations against him, calling them “attacks” on his:
Private Christian faith and life.
He said that he was a lay Bible teacher who did not run a Pentecostal church and described the statement about the exorcism as “a total fabrication”.
O’Brien, who did not attend the GMC hearing, admitted in statements that he had formed a friendship with the patient, helping her daughter to move and giving her lifts to the church for several weeks.
Hat tip: Ivan, Angela K & BarrieJohn