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Doctor found guilty of misconduct over suicide prescription

24 July 2008

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A GP who prescribed sleeping pills to a potentially suicidal patient has been found guilty of misconduct by the General Medical Council (GMC).

After the patient had told him she was considering suicide in 1998, Dr Iain Kerr, 61, prescribed 30 sodium amytal pills to the former businesswoman.

His actions were judged to be “inappropriate, irresponsible, liable to bring the profession into disrepute and not in your patient’s best interest”, by a GMC Fitness to Practise Panel.

The Glasgow GP also failed to refer the retired businesswoman, known as Patient A, to hospital after she overdosed on Temazepam tablets in December 2005.

Two days later the doctor prescribed more tablets, and the 87-year-old killed herself. The same ruling was made against the Glasgow GP for this failure.

Suzanne Goddard QC, counsel for the GMC, said what Dr Kerr did was “akin to handing her a noose with which to hang herself at a time of her choosing”.

The panel ruled that Dr Kerr’s actions brought the profession into disrepute for not making a record of why he had prescribed sodium amytal pills to four patients and for poor record-keeping in relation to a fifth patient.

The GMC Panel will reconvene to consider what penalties, if any, the doctor will face.

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