Dr Love suspended after having sex with vulnerable patient

A BRISBANE doctor, with the unfortunate name of Dr Love, has been suspended from practising for six years after he had sex with a vulnerable patient who he "shamelessly exploited".

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal found James Fitzgerald Russell Love's five-year sexual relationship with his patient was "reprehensible in the extreme" and a gross violation of the responsibility placed in him as a medical practitioner.

The tribunal found he behaved in a way that constituted professional misconduct and ordered he pay the Medical Board of Australia's costs in bringing the actions to light.

QCAT deputy president Alexander Horneman-Wren said it was difficult to have confidence the doctor would not pose a risk at any time in the future given the violation of boundaries, the extent of the exploitation and absence of remorse or insight into his conduct.

"It is difficult to imagine how a patient could be more evidently vulnerable, yet so shamelessly exploited," he said.

Dr Love, 69, retired in 2008 at age 64 and ended the sexual relationship with his patient at the same time.

Judge Horneman-Wren said the patient "felt used" and told her psychiatrist, who notified the medical board about the relationship.

He said Dr Love had been seeing the patient since 1998 when she was referred to him for a complete check-up in relation to domestic violence that she suffered as a result of a violent marriage.

At that time, she was also suffering from anorexia nervosa, depression and anxiety.

Judge Horneman-Wren said there was no reason to find the allegations about the relationship were not true.

He said Dr Love was aware of his patient's allegations and had not denied them.

Judge Horneman-Wren said there was other evidence which could corroborate the patient's version, such as tax invoices from a motel near the doctor's surgery and extracts from a pocket mail device Dr Love provided to her so that they could communicate secretly.

Dr Love saw the woman monthly until about 2003 when the consultations became weekly.

The woman revealed she had been a childhood victim of sexual abuse and told him about her previous violent marriage.

She began writing weekly to Dr Love that year and he would write back.

A sexual relationship ensued which included sex at the surgery after hours and at nearby motels when he worked weekends.

Judge Horneman-Wren said the woman suggested she see another doctor when they began having a sexual relationship but Dr Love allegedly insisted she continue to see him.

"He continued to exploit the patient for his own sexual gratification even at a time when her mental condition was such that she was in an inpatient at the New Farm Clinic, self harming and overdosing on drugs," he said.

"That Dr Love should meet with her at those times, attend to his own sexual gratification and return her to the New Farm Clinic, her self harm wounds bandaged as they had been when she had arrived to meet him, is reprehensible in the extreme."

Dr Love had told the woman he would not leave his wife so she could not tell anyone about their sexual relationship but she could not have other sexual partners because he intended to continue having sex with his wife.


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