Australia Medical Board Cancels Registration of Psychiatrist Peter McCarthy for Sex with Patient

July 8, 2020

On June 30, 2020, the Medical Board of Australia canceled the health practitioner registration of psychiatrist Peter D. McCarthy and disqualified him from reapplying for a new registration for five years. 

In a hearing before the State Adminstrative Tribunal of Western Australia (WASAT), McCarthy was found to have committed professional misconduct and was found to be unfit to practice. The basis of these findings was McCarthty's having engaged in a personal, social, and sexual relationship with a female patient to whom he prescribed certain medications for which were not medically indicated for the patient's symptoms; for failure to keep clinical notes for all but eight of the moer than 70 consultations he had with the patient over a two-year periodl; and for attempting to persuade the patient to not cooperate with the Medical Board or the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency when he came under investigation. 

The patient had begun treatment with McCarthy for depression following the death of her husband nine months earlier. He prescribed her Ritalin to treat her depressive symptoms. She became disinhibited, suffered from insomnia, and experienced elevated libido from the drug, which she became addicted to. McCarthy also wrote a referral letter for the patient to another doctor in which he gave false information about the medication the patient was taking. 

The document issued by WASAT goes into vivid detail about McCarthy's conduct with the patient: 

  • McCarthy allowed the Patient to groom him by manicuring his fingernails, massaging his hands, arms, chest and neck with cream, trimming his nose and ear hair and filing his toenails;
  • McCarthy allowed the Patient to measure his blood pressure;
  • McCarthy allowed the Patient to sew buttons on his shirts;
  • McCarthy and the Patient ate and drank food and beverages, including alcoholic beverages, which the Patient brought to the Consultations;
  • McCarthy and the Patient hugged and kissed one another in an intimate manner;
  • McCarthy allowed the Patient to masturbate while he watched her doing so;
  • McCarthy allowed the Patient to rub her genitals against his leg;
  • McCarthy fondled the Patient's breasts;
  • McCarthy fondled the Patient's genitals;
  • McCarthy allowed the Patient to fondle his genitals;
  • McCarthy the Respondent photographed the Patient;
  • McCarthy the Respondent allowed the Patient to photograph him; and
  • McCarthy on the floor of his consulting room, on multiple occasions, the Respondent performed oral sex on the Patient and allowed the Patient to perform oral sex on him and engaged in sexual intercourse with the Patient.

McCarthy was convicted in 2018 of attempting to pervert the course of justice, relative to his attempting to persuade the patient to not cooperate with investigating authorities. He was sentenced to a minimum six-month jail term. 

Source: "Psychiatrist had sex with patient and used drugs," Sunshine Coast Daily, Jan. 23, 2020, URL: and Medical Board of Australia and McCarthy [2020] WASAT 12 (30 June 2020), 


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