03 Jan 2023
A Western Australian psychiatrist who developed a personal relationship with a former patient has been disqualified from applying for medical registration for two years.
The Western Australian State Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) found Dr Margaret Florence Lumley’s behaviour with a patient between 1996 and 1998 demonstrated professional misconduct.
Dr Lumley saw the patient 258 times between January 1994 and July 1996 for psychotherapy treatment in relation to the patient’s major depressive disorder. During consultations the patient disclosed having received treatment for major depressive disorder, severe and recalcitrant suicidal ideation and difficulties dealing with people who had power over them and who exploited boundaries.
Dr Lumley invited the patient to move in with her shortly after the treating relationship ended and the patient moved in with the practitioner in October 1996. Dr Lumley failed to maintain professional boundaries with the patient in that she developed a close personal relationship with the patient. The patient moved out of the practitioner’s home the following year.
From January to July 1998, Dr Lumley supervised the patient when the patient was completing training as a psychiatric registrar. However, Dr Lumley failed to disclose and manage the conflict of interest that arose from Dr Lumley’s treating relationship and close personal relationship with the patient.
The Medical Board of Australia became aware of the matter in July 2021 and an investigation followed.
On 9 December 2022, all parties agreed before a tribunal mediation that:
Dr Lumley was reprimanded and disqualified for applying for medical registration for two years and ordered to pay costs of $6,000. Dr Lumley has retired and let her registration lapse on 30 September 2022 with no intention of returning to practice.
The full decision was published on eCourts Portal on 14 December 2022.