14 Oct 2019
A tribunal has cautioned a Queensland psychiatrist for unsatisfactory professional performance in relation to his diagnosis and treatment of patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Between 2010 and 2013 a number of notifications were received by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) about Queensland psychiatrist Dr Philip Bird’s treatment of patients with ADHD.
The notifications were referred to the Medical Board of Australia (the Board), who subsequently took immediate action on 8 July 2013 imposing conditions on Dr Bird’s registration.
On 23 October 2013, Dr Bird gave undertakings to the Board which replaced the conditions on his registration. The undertakings required, amongst other things, that Dr Bird refer for a second opinion:
The Board referred the matter to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) on 18 June 2014. The initial allegations raised related to 12 patients which had been diagnosed with ADHD and treated with stimulant medication, whilst also suffering a comorbid mental disorder. The allegations were amended on 4 July 2016 and 8 March 2017 and reduced to eight patients.
The final allegations about the eight patients included:
The matter was heard by the tribunal on 21 March 2017 and 29 March 2017 and proceeded by way of a statement of agreed facts concerning three of the eight patients. The statement of agreed facts recorded where the parties’ experts, through an expert conclave, had been able to reach agreement, including that:
On 26 April 2019, the tribunal delivered its substantive decision that Dr Bird had behaved in a way that constitutes unsatisfactory professional performance. He was cautioned and ordered to pay the Board’s costs of the proceedings. However, due to the delay in finalising its decision, the tribunal considered it should receive further evidence and submissions to determine whether conditions should still be imposed, in particular with respect to obtaining a second opinion and mentoring. The proceedings were therefore adjourned to determine whether any, and if so what, conditions were to be imposed.
At this point the Board accepted that conditions requiring a second opinion did not need to be imposed by the tribunal, given Dr Bird had continued to comply with his earlier undertaking.
Dr Bird had also submitted extensive material about the education he had completed since the hearing which included regular participation in peer review meetings on ADHD. The Board was satisfied that the peer review meetings were sufficient to satisfy the requirements of any mentoring conditions.
On 12 June 2019 the tribunal finalised its reasons for its decision. The tribunal decided that, in the circumstances, further conditions on Dr Bird’s registration were not required.
The decision and reasons are published on the tribunal’s website.