Philip Bird

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Psychiatrist warned over prescribed drugs before fatal crash
Vanda Carson

A MAROOCHYDORE psychiatrist who prescribed “kiddie speed” and other drugs to a driver who crashed and killed twin girls and their grandmother was forewarned that “someone will be killed”.

Four years before the tragedy the wife of a patient wrote Dr Philip Bird a letter warning that an innocent motorist or passenger could die.

The woman told Dr Bird that when her 59-year-old engineer husband took the “kiddie speed” drug dexamphetamine prescribed to him by Dr Bird, he drove at “speeds like he is on a racetrack and takes enormous risks”.

“I would not forgive myself if he killed someone in a car accident and I had not tried my best to prevent it,” she wrote to Dr Bird in June 2005.

On May 8, 2009, another of Dr Bird’s patients, Anthony Thomson, 46, was intoxicated on at least three prescribed drugs including high amounts of dexamphetamine when he ploughed his car into a vehicle carrying five-year-old twins Grace and Jessica Hornby and their grandmother Denise Mansell, at Woombye on the Sunshine Coast. Mr Thomson, the twins and grandmother died.

Dr Bird allowed Mr Thomson to pick up the drugs fortnightly, which allowed Mr Thomson to binge and take 10 times the prescribed dose — just before he ploughed his car into the Hornby family.

The wife of the other patient reported Dr Bird to the medical watchdog after she discovered 46 bottles of dexamphetamine in their walk-in wardrobe in 2007.

“I was shocked by the sheer volume,” she said. He was taking 10 pills a day.

The Medical Board has accused Dr Bird of “professional misconduct” in relation to 12 patients. He denies the claims. According to the disciplinary proceeding referral filed in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Dr Bird is accused of wrongly diagnosing ADHD, inappropriately prescribing high doses of dexamphetamine and inappropriately conducting “human research” trials on patients, including Mr Thomson. He denies this. One of the cases being investigated involves a former pupil of Brisbane private boys’ school Churchie whose father was an Australian rugby player.

The 34-year-old, who had been an “advanced fighter pilot” flying F/A-18s out of Williamtown, near Newcastle, was living on the Sunshine Coast when he started seeing Dr Bird in 1999. Dr Bird diagnosed him with ADHD in May 2005 but the Medical Board alleges he never had the condition and suffered only depression and anxiety.

The former pilot committed suicide by jumping from a building in Sydney’s Kings Cross in August 2008.

Dr Bird told the tribunal he “rejects” independent expert Dr John Varghese’s “comments that the diagnosis of ADHD (in the pilot) was made ‘with very little documented reasoning or justification’.”

Another patient, whose name has been suppressed by the tribunal, was “found in a pool with a TV and a filing cabinet” and later found locked in a car boot not knowing how he got there.

Dr Varghese, an expert psychiatrist hired to examine Dr Bird’s treatment, has found almost all Dr Bird’s diagnoses of ADHD and prescriptions for dexamphetamine were wrong or at least highly questionable.

The case returns to the tribunal on March 21

the rest of the story: Daily Telegraph