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Tribunal reprimands doctor, orders counselling

24 Nov 2015

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has reprimanded Dr Andrew Alfred George Leggett, a psychiatrist and ordered him to undertake counselling, for having a personal and sexual relationship with a former patient.

From late 1994 until 31 August 2000, Dr Leggett provided intensive psychotherapeutic treatment to a patient, including treatment for chronic depression.

In about April 2007, Dr Leggett started a personal (not sexual) relationship with the patient and in July or early August 2007, Dr Leggett and the patient started a sexual relationship.

In about April 2009, Dr Leggett ended the sexual relationship with the patient by telephone.

On 29 May 2012, after receiving a notification, the Medical Board of Australia took immediate action and imposed conditions on Dr Leggett’s medical registration, as an interim action to keep the public safe pending other inquiries. The conditions required a chaperone to be present for all consultations with female patients.

At that time, Dr Leggett was employed by Queensland Health and the conditions made his employment impractical. As a result, Dr Leggett ceased practice voluntarily until January 2014.

Dr Leggett admitted that his relationship with the patient was inappropriate even when there had been a significant passage of time from when the treating relationship ended and the personal relationship started.

QCAT reprimanded Dr Leggett, and ordered him to complete a 12-month course of counselling with a Board-approved psychiatrist who specialises in boundary violation issues. The treating psychiatrist is to provide quarterly reports to the Board.

In the reasons for its decision, QCAT noted that Dr Leggett had shown great insight into his conduct and that this matter differed from other boundary violation matters in that there was no evidence of grooming or predatory behaviour that sought to exploit the balance of power between doctor and patient.

QCAT took these factors into account when deciding not to order a separate period of suspension, in addition to that which Dr Leggett had previously self-imposed.

Dr Leggett was ordered to pay the Board’s costs.

The QCAT decision is published on Austlii.

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Page reviewed 24/11/2015