Queensland Psychiatrist James Rodney Guilty of Professional Misconduct, Must Pay $105,000 Fines & Costs: Wrote Himself into Patients Wills

September 23, 2021

A respected Brisbane psychiatrist with “a distinguished career,” who became a beneficiary in the wills of an elderly ex-patient and her sister, has been reprimanded for professional misconduct.

Dr. James Maurice John Rodney was fined $30,000 by a tribunal and ordered to pay $75,000 to the Health Ombudsman, for their costs in bringing disciplinary proceedings against him.

Dr. Rodney, 72, who has been a psychiatrist for 48 years, is director of a mood disorder unit at New Farm Clinic and is a clinical senior lecturer at University of Queensland.

The tribunal accepted that Dr. Rodney did not and never intended to benefit from being a beneficiary in the wills of Patricia and her sister Audrey, who are both now dead.

Patricia was in her mid-80s and Audrey was in her early 90s when Dr. Rodney prepared their wills, under instruction from Patricia, Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.

QCAT Deputy President Judge John Allen said Dr. Rodney put himself in a position of conflict of interest out of his genuine concern for Patricia and desire to help the sisters.

He treated Patricia, who had borderline personality disorder, depression and anxiety, from the early 90s, and as years progressed he became concerned about her physical frailty.

Dr. Rodney eventually began seeing Patricia, who lived with her sister and had no other family support, as a patient at her New Farm home from January, 2015, the tribunal heard.

In March, 2015, Patricia told Dr. Rodney, who had increasingly offered the sisters practical home help, that she wanted him to be a beneficiary in her will and asked him to make the arrangements.

After repeated requests, Dr. Rodney bought two will packs from a newsagent and completed wills for the sisters, in the way Patricia requested, the tribunal heard.

Dr. Rodney told the tribunal he thought it was just an interim arrangement as he knew Patricia and Audrey ultimately wanted their estates to benefit charities.

Patricia’s will named Dr. Rodney as executor and sole beneficiary of her estate on the passing of Audrey and he became beneficiary under Audrey’s will, if Patricia had passed.

Dr. Rodney also agreed to prepare Powers of Attorney for Patricia and Audrey, with himself as Patricia’s attorney.

After the sisters moved to aged care, Dr. Rodney held some of their possessions, he became signatory on their bank accounts and kept some of their cash in his safe, using it to buy things they needed.

He also wrote two prescriptions for Patricia in 2015, when by then he was only supposed to be her carer, the tribunal heard.

Judge Allen said the relationship with Patricia deteriorated, she became hostile towards him, engaged solicitors to seek the return of cash and items in his possession and made new wills for herself and her sister.

Dr. James Rodney accepted that he should never have allowed himself to become a beneficiary to the sisters’ estates, which the tribunal said showed “serious errors of judgment.’’

Judge Allen said Dr. Rodney “allowed his concern for Patricia’s personal circumstance to override his professional obligations to maintain appropriate professional boundaries and avoid conflicts of interest.’’

On August 19, the tribunal also ordered that Dr. Rodney be mentored by another doctor in relation to professional boundaries for 12 months.

Source: Kay Dibben, “Psychiatrist and UQ lecturer Dr. James Rodney fined after writing himself into patients’ wills,” Herald Sun, Sept. 18, 2021. 


No comments.

Post your own comment here:

Your Comment