Psychiatrist who made “one-off” error of judgment should not be disciplined

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 10 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b568
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

    A forensic psychiatrist whose patient killed a man after absconding from hospital grounds has won a long running battle at the High Court in London to stop her employers suspending her and taking disciplinary proceedings against her.

    Gill Mezey authorised John Barrett, who has paranoid schizophrenia and a history of violence, to take one hour’s unsupervised “ground leave” in the grounds of Springfield Hospital without seeing him in September 2004. Mr Barrett had been readmitted to the hospital in South London for assessment because of concerns about a possible deterioration in his condition.

    Dr Mezey was away from the hospital on other duties and was unable to assess him immediately. She authorised the unsupervised leave on the basis of what she was told by colleagues. Mr Barrett left the grounds and a day later killed the banker Denis Finnegan, a stranger …

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