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IMO members reject motion calling for legal clarity surrounding drug issues

A series of speakers said they had concerns in relation to either of the Departments or the Medical Council providing guidelines in this area.

Dr Matthew Sadlier, who proposed the motion, admitted that it was “controversial”. He said he was not clear on the correct path of action.

“I’m not taking one side or the other, I am not saying I am advocating mandatory reporting. I just want some clarity,” said Dr Sadlier.

“The scenarios I am talking about are on the issue of drug-dealing happening in mental health facilities. The other issue [is] where we are interviewing a patient and we learn about issues to do with drug selling, drug trafficking, drug activity,” said Dr Sadlier.

“I would like for some clarity from the Medical Council or the Department of Justice. I have left the motion really broad because I am not exactly sure who should be providing the guidelines.”

However, a number of speakers spoke against the motion, voicing concerns over the impact it would have on the doctor-patient relationship.

“If the Government or anyone else got involved in this, they could be quite prescriptive and the doctor-patient relationship is quite sacred,” said Dublin-based GP Dr Garrett McGovern.

“The other thing I would worry about is that if this became widely-known, it would probably keep patients away from us.”

GP Dr Bridget O’Brien also opposed the motion, saying that “if drug-dealing goes on within a hospital it is managers who must take responsibility for that”.

Dublin GP Dr Cathal Ó Súilleabháin warned that “there is another side to this”.

“We often get malicious complaints or information from one patient against another, so that puts the doctor in a very invidious position if they are to report that. I would be very loath to let the Minister for Justice or the Minister for Health or even the Medical Council decide on this.”

The motion was defeated.

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