Well intentioned as it may be, if so it can still constitute misconduct, though not serious misconduct or impaired FTP.

Dr A was in his first year training and held two consultations with a young patient and her mother.  Around a month later he phoned the patient’s mother and spoke to the patient to wish her a happy birthday.   Some time later he visited their house in person with two presents for the patient together with some fish, foil and olive oil.

For reasons that are difficult to ascertain from the case report, the Mother later reported this to the police.  A complaint was also made to the Trust which investigated, the Trust then made a referral to the GMC and the case found its way to the MPTS.

Dr A was from Jordan and relatively new to the UK.  He had been focussing on his technical medical skills and had missed the cultural and formalistic approach more common here.  There was evidence that in Jordan his actions would have been entirely normal within the doctor patient relationship.  Dr A had a family in Jordan and he missed them, he had a daughter who was approximately the same age as the patient in question.  The evidence was that he was culturally naïve.  There was absolutely no suggestion that his motive was anything other than well meaning.

Dr A gave evidence that he understood the Mother felt pain and gave evidence that he felt upset at that fact.  There was helpful evidence in the case that he showed insight and remediation having undertaken learning and the Tribunal decided it was not an act likely to be repeated.  The Tribunal did find that Dr A’s phoning the Mother and attending the home was misconduct but not serious misconduct, it could not then go on to find there was impaired FTP and did not do so – a finding of impairment requires serious misconduct.

The further issue in the case was that Dr A had accessed the patient’s records to obtain the contact details for the call and visit.  The Tribunal did find this was serious misconduct and whilst it did not lead to a finding of impairment on the facts, a warning about using data was issued.  The accessing of patient records is of course an obvious error and breaches numerous rules.

The consequences flowing from what unquestionably was an act of kindness are of more interest. Sadly, this case is an example of how even small innocent trespasses in relationships with patients can cause FTP issues.  It is also notable that it was not the patient who was upset but the Mother and it was the Mother who was the complainant.

Please note that the comments in this case review are generic, if you have any fitness to practise concerns please contact us for specific advice on your matter.