Turtles all the way down

GP took patient to church for exorcism, hearing told

Posted by doctore0 on April 15, 2013

A GP persuaded a patient to give up her anti-depression medication before taking her to his church to be exorcised, the General Medical Council was told.

Dr Thomas O’Brien was working as a locum when he took the woman to a Pentecostal church for a four-hour “testimony” where the exorcism allegedly took place.

Dr O’Brien has now been given conditions on his registration for 18 months after it was ruled that his professional and private boundaries became “blurred” and that he imposed his religious beliefs on the woman.

The GMC was told that he saw the patient, who has not been named, in Staffordshire. She had been prescribed antidepressant, antihypertensive and analgesic medication, but the woman claimed that she stopped taking the medication after Dr O’Brien told her “there is another way”.

She said he gave her lifts to a Pentecostal church in Stoke-on-Trent where she was advised that “God is her surgeon and God will heal her”.

The patient also claimed that Dr O’Brien 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 Dr 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”.
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