Sunshine Coast Daily
Psychiatrist had sex with patient and used drugs
by Michael Ramsey
January 23, 2020
A disgraced Perth psychiatrist who had a sexual relationship with a patient, inappropriately prescribed her stimulants and smoked marijuana in her company has had a finding of professional misconduct made against him.
Peter David McCarthy, 69, also attempted to persuade the patient not to co-operate with authorities during disciplinary proceedings against him.
McCarthy was subsequently convicted in 2018 by the WA District Court of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
He was handed a minimum six-month jail term.
In a recent finding, the State Administrative Tribunal ruled that McCarthy’s actions amounted to professional misconduct.
McCarthy began seeing the patient, who was depressed and grieving the death of her husband nine months earlier, in June 2012.
Over the course of the next two years, the appointments began to include intimate contact that led to the pair having sex on the floor of McCarthy’s consulting room.
They also spent time at McCarthy’s home, where on one occasion he smoked two marijuana joints while writing a report.
The tribunal found that McCarthy had inappropriately prescribed the woman Ritalin to treat her depressive symptoms.
She became disinhibited, suffered from insomnia and experienced an elevated libido from taking the medication, which she became addicted to.
McCarthy also wrote a referral letter to another doctor which provided false information about the medication the patient was taking.
The tribunal found McCarthy’s notes for his consultations with the patient were mostly illegible and unintelligible.
McCarthy learned in early-2015 that the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) was looking into his conduct with the woman.
He then tried to persuade her not to co-operate with AHPRA’s investigation, warning that it could “ruin him, financially and professionally”.
He suggested she should claim to be depressed with suicidal thoughts and could not give a statement because it would harm her mental health.
McCarthy declined to participate in the tribunal proceedings but indicated through his counsel that he made no admissions in regards to any allegations against him.
Applicable penalties for professional misconduct include a permanent ban on providing any health service.
The tribunal will receive submissions from the Medical Board of Australia and McCarthy in relation to penalty and costs.