An interesting case came before the Medical Council in Ireland this week. The first public hearing of a fitness-to-practise committee inquiry took place following a complaint lodged by a female patient. A Dublin GP who used inappropriate and insensitive terminology, was found not guilty of professional misconduct.
The woman attended the GP complaining of lack of energy, difficulty sleeping and flu-like symptoms. The doctor conducted a thorough examination and referred her for a brain scan for her headaches. In the course of the 30-minute consultation, the doctor asked his patient was she “next or near a man’s willy bits” in the last six months. She was offended at this because she had already told him she was single. He then suggested “rumpy pumpy” as one of the possible ways she might relax in order to help her sleep. The woman later wrote to the doctor to say that she felt his language was inappropriate for a doctor. The doctor replied apologising unreservedly for the remarks and said his questions related to the possibility she might be pregnant or have a sexually transmitted disease. The woman felt his explanation was patronising as he had tried to justify his inappropriate terminology so she decided to lodge a complaint with the Medical Council.
The fitness to practise committee found the allegation that the doctor had used inappropriate and insensitive language proven but did not find this to be professional misconduct.
What’s your reaction to this story? Would you be comfortable if a doctor spoke to you in this manner? Was the patient right to complain? I’d love to hear your views.