Returning to work after a long leave of absence can sometimes be overwhelming. Fortunately, our coping mechanism usually allows us to adjust well enough, given sufficient time.

However, one doctor in the UK had come up with his own creative solution to ‘cut corners’. His actions, although seemingly meant no harm to patients – and was directed to his own self – were discovered soon enough. Fortunately, it was found that there was no necessity to take action for the misconduct and no sanction was imposed on him.

Dr Andrew Thomson a created fake patient called M Mouse to fill up schedule. Photo credit: The Telegraph
Dr Andrew Thomson a created fake patient called M Mouse to fill up schedule. Photo credit: The Telegraph

Doctor made up fake patient appointments, despite being available for consultation

In 2014, it came to light that the doctor, Dr Andrew Thomson, had deleted his patients’ appointment slots after returning from a long leave.

An investigation was carried out on the 45-year-old GP, who was working as an executive partner at the Academy Health Centre in Forfar, Tayside at that time. He had created fake patient appointments over five years to replace the deleted slots although he was actually available for consultation. He had also created a phantom patient called “M Mouse”.

Dr Thomson admitted to a total of 25 misconduct charges dating from 2009 to 2014. He had falsely claimed that he had either seen or spoken to patients and in one occasion, he made an appointment for a patient whom he knew was admitted in another hospital.

The tribunal panel said it was “doctor’s coping mechanism”

The General Medical Council had called for Dr Thomson to be suspended – believing that public confidence would be undermined if any other sanction was imposed.

However, the tribunal panel said it was the doctor’s way of coping with his additional workload after returning to practice following a long leave of absence.

Powerful mitigating factors and witness evidence had shown that Dr Thomson was an “outstanding, dedicated and conscientious GP”, the panel found. This, they said, despite finding that his fitness to practise has been impaired.

According to the tribunal, it “has concluded that its finding of impairment is sufficient to meet the statutory overarching objective which includes the need to maintain public confidence in the profession and declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour”.

Testimonials to the hearing had been found to be consistently positive. The panel also highlighted that “the tribunal acknowledges that you still have a propensity to overwork.”

Line of duty: Excessive workload is not an excuse for professional misconduct.
Line of duty: Excessive workload is not an excuse for professional misconduct.

“M Mouse” was an IT-training inspired moniker

On the “M Mouse” character, the tribunal accepted his explanation that it was an IT-training inspired moniker. Furthermore, it would be very obvious that this was not a real patient.

According to Dr Thomson, he made up the appointment for “M Mouse” to fill a gap in his schedule, created shortly before by an administrative staff.

Dr Thomson now works in another health centre.

Excessive workload is not an excuse to create phantom patients and there are better ways of managing them. Learning to cope is an essential skill no matter which field you are in, to keep up to the demands of your role. MIMS

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Sources:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/07/gp-created-fake-patient-m-mouse-escapes-suspension/
https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/angus-mearns/504418/no-sanction-imposed-on-leading-angus-gp-after-tribunal-misconduct-ruling/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4798830/Dishonest-GP-doctored-diary-lighten-workload.html
https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/1521136/forfar-doctor-made-up-patient-names-ease-workload/