A NSW psychiatrist slept with a 25-year-old patient, wrote her scripts for powerful drugs without consultation, paid her $20,000, took ecstasy with her and did not end the relationship because he thought she would get “extremely angry,” the state Medical Tribunal has heard.
The tribunal ordered that Neil Schultz – who has been reprimanded for misconduct before – be deregistered for 18 months.
It found him guilty of professional misconduct, failing to protect patient confidentiality, having an inappropriate personal relationship with a patient and failing to observe professional boundaries.
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A complaint received by the Health Care Complaints Commission last year said Schultz, whose practice was in Richmond, began treating the patient in March 2008, diagnosing her with attention deficit disorder and borderline personality disorder.
Between March 2008 and November 2009, Schultz prescribed dexamphetamine to the patient, the complaint stated, despite knowing she had a history of drug abuse.
Once he stopped consulting her in January 2009, he continued to write her prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs and narcotics.
Schultz told the tribunal it was not unusual for him to do so for friends and co-workers.
In September 2009, two consultant psychiatrists told the Medical Board that Schultz “has admitted to both of us, separately, that he was involved in a physical relationship with a female patient.
“We believe our colleague has been depressed and we are concerned for his safety.”
Schultz told the tribunal that in December 2008 he employed the patient for “a few hours a week” to do admin work, paying her a total of $20,000. He also bought her a car.
According to Schultz’s evidence, on one occasion the patient came to his office, gave him ecstasy and the pair then had sex.
The Health Care Complaints Commission sought expert opinion from a consultant psychiatrist and psychogeriatrician, Janine Stevenson, who stated that Schultz did nothing to stop the relationship progressing by “letting her spend time in the practice, by letting her work in the practice (which I find to be grossly unprofessional given the necessity of confidentiality of the other patients in the practice), by giving her food, money and gifts and by seeking out her advice and support for his own problems”.
Dr Stevenson said that, despite knowing people with borderline personality disorder had problems with boundaries, Schultz invited her to be part of his own family.
The tribunal stated it was “comfortably satisfied that the respondent’s [Schultz’s] conduct was deliberate”.
They accepted Schultz felt “desperately ashamed” of his actions, but ordered his deregistration and to pay the commission’s costs in the proceedings.
It was not the first time Schultz had been investigated. In 2002, an inquiry by the Professional Standards Committee found that as a trainee physician, Schultz, who was married, began a relationship with a patient who was also married.
The pair divorced their respective spouses and married in 2000.
He was reprimanded and ordered to participate in a peer review program.