South African psychiatrist suspended for one year for sexual relationship with patient

February 28, 2011

A Durban psychiatrist has pleaded guilty to having a sexual relationship with a patient.

The doctor brought an application before a Health Professional Council of SA (HPCSA) professional conduct hearing in Durban this week to bar media from sitting in on the inquiry and disclosing his name.

The psychiatrist, who is based at a private hospital, was found guilty of having a relationship with his patient from April 2009 until August 2009.

It is against HPCSA law for a doctor to have a sexual relationship with a patient.

The doctor pleaded guilty to the charges and was suspended for five years, of which four years was suspended on condition that he not be found guilty of a similar offence during that period.

HPCSA's advocate, Meshack Mapholisa, said the committee had granted the application for the inquiry to be held in camera [In chambers, before the judge but away from the jury.]

The doctor's lawyer, Altus Janse van Rensburg, said he could not divulge reasons for his client's application for an in-camera hearing.

HPCSA spokesman Lize Nel said the committee had taken into consideration the doctor's "personal circumstances,which warranted the inquiry to be held in camera as the practitioner faced a charge of a sexual nature".

Nel said in sensitive cases like this one, the media was privy only to the outcome.

Meanwhile, in another case, Durban doctor Yeteen Bhagwan, who was charged with refusing to give treatment to a patient, was this week found not guilty.

The doctor did not want to coment further about the case.

The hearing followed a complaint lodged by Verulam mother Anitha Ramdeen. She claimed her son was refused treatment by Bhagwan's practice in 2007 because he was a medical-aid patient.

She said her son was ill with a cold and when she went to the practice she found it accepted only cash.

The letter of complaint said: "I am a mother who went there with a very sick child who was 100% on medical aid and I was refused medical assistance on grounds of having a medical aid."

The committee found Bhagwan not guilty based on a lack of evidence and Ramdeen's failure to appear at the hearing.

Committee chairman Dr PJ Barnard said to continue with the hearing would be illegal.

After the hearing, Bhagwan told the Sunday Times Extra he had not been at his practice when the incident with Ramdeen occurred.

Source: Teneshia Naidoo, "Psychiatrist pleads guilty to sexual misconduct, Sunday Times, February 27, 2011


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