The scene

A male foundation doctor in accident and emergency saw a patient who had been bitten on the arm by her cat a couple of days before. The bite had become red and inflamed, and while examining the patient, the doctor asked her to remove her top in order to palpate her axilla and see if the lymph nodes were swollen. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and a tetanus injection.

Later that day, he was called to see his consultant, who said that the patient complained that the doctor had inappropriately touched her breasts during the examination. The doctor was sent home, but later that evening the police arrived at his house and arrested him for sexual assault. At the police station, the doctor called the MDU helpline for advice.

MDU advice

The adviser suggested that the doctor shouldn't give an interview to the police without a solicitor present. She arranged for a solicitor to attend the police station, who took a detailed statement for the police and accompanied the doctor to the interview. The police released the doctor on bail, after which the solicitor suggested that the doctor tell the Trust about the police's involvement.

After several months, the police decided to charge the doctor with sexual assault. The MDU solicitor advised that the doctor tell the GMC that he had been charged, after which the GMC decided to investigate. An Interim Orders panel hearing was arranged, which the doctor attended accompanied by the MDU solicitor, and the doctor was suspended.

The MDU instructed a solicitor and barrister to assist the doctor at the criminal trial, which eventually found the doctor not guilty. The GMC closed the case with advice that the doctor should offer a chaperone when undertaking any examination which the patient may feel is intimate.

This is a fictional case compiled from the MDU's files.


This article was correct at publication on 22/04/2016. It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.