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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Psychotic terrorised my child ­ then complained!

Life for a GP

on a remote island isn't the paradise some might imagine, as this horrific story vividly illustrates

The first week into my new practice on a remote island off the British mainland a patient came to see me. He had a reputation for violence and his relationship with my predecessor had not been a happy one. He walked with a curious gait and had apparent weakness and spasticity of his right arm. He also told me he suffered from leg and neck pain and from horrific headaches.

I tried hard to make a diagnosis but I couldn't find anything wrong and this seemed to annoy him.

He started pestering me more and more frequently and his whole manner became threatening. His daughter attended the same school as mine so our paths often crossed.

One evening, after a hard day at the surgery when this man had again been abusive, I went to the local pub with some friends. He was there playing pool. He didn't see me and I was able to watch him moving around the table and playing awkward shots with complete ease.

Next day he came to see me again, bent double, complaining of agonising pains, accusing me of having no sympathy and shouting abuse. After he went, I watched him from behind the surgery window curtain. As he crossed the car park he straightened up and began to walk purposefully towards his car.

When he came to me next day I confronted him and told him I had seen him moving without disability and felt there was nothing wrong with him. I told him to stop wasting my time. He became violently abusive and stormed out of the surgery, creating havoc in the waiting room.

An hour later his wife phoned to say he had taken an overdose and was unconscious. I admitted him as an emergency but the overdose was a hoax.

Next he started to complain about me. He said I had been negligent and had behaved irresponsibly towards him. He said I suffered from delusions. He complained to the health board, to the neighbours and he harangued my patients in the waiting room. In due course, and to my incredulity, I learned the health board was taking this man's complaints seriously and that I might have a case to answer.

The next morning my daughter burst into tears and said she wasn't going to school. She had been unhappy for some time, and I asked her what was really wrong. She said the daughter of this man had told her he was planning to chop her up with an axe. He was at the school almost every afternoon, picking up his children and watching her.

I put the man off my list instantly, contacted the my defence organisation and wrote to the health board. Quite apart from my horror at what my daughter had told me I could not believe there was a chance I might be disciplined for professional shortcomings on the evidence of a man who was known to be a violent and untrustworthy psychotic.

I waited in trepidation, but in the end nothing came of the case. Nor has the man, who moved to a nearby practice, mounted any sort of campaign of abuse against me. But I still see him round and about, his children still go to my daughter's school.

My daughter has only gradually recovered her confidence, and I am still very wary

The author wishes to remain anonymous

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