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Home | Blog | Violation of the doctor/patient relationship during treatment

On 6 March, Dr Ong Ming Tan, psychiatrist, was sentenced to an imprisonment period of three years after pleading guilty to charges of aggravated indecent assault concerning four of his previous patients.

Wasn’t the first time

Dr Tan perpetrated similar crimes on several other patients, many of whom have retained Turner Freeman Lawyers, in the hope of seeking justice through compensation for their pain and suffering and other losses including medical and counselling.

Ong Ming Tan undertook a significant portion of his treatment of these patients at Northside Clinic, a 92 bed facility located at Greenwich on Sydney’s lower north shore. The Clinic purports to be a leader in the provision of private mental health care in Australia and is a teaching hospital for the University of Sydney. The hospital has a number of specialised treating units including mood disorders; drug and alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation and eating disorders, as well as a comprehensive range of day programs. Northside promotes itself as offering a combination of the very best treatment options, a high level of customer service, an integrated social program and an emphasis on the involvement of carers.

In view of that background, there is no doubt that Northside owed its patients a duty to safeguard their interests. Dr Tan’s patients suffered from an eating disorder and entrusted both Dr Tan and the Clinic to provide them with dedicated and therapeutic treatment, solely for the purpose of improving their mental health in order to overcome their eating disorder. In fact, the reverse occurred; through the reprehensible criminal conduct of Dr Tan, involving manipulating the vulnerable state of his patients, these women have been left scarred for life.

These cases are no doubt sensitive on many levels but require the close examination of the catastrophic effect of boundary violations within the treating relationship. Many of Dr Tan’s patients are receiving therapy to overcome the so-called “therapy” that he provided to them, conduct that these patients firmly believe only survived due to clear institutional failures.

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