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Human Rights Watch: Doctor hauled before Ghana’s Medical and Dental Council after refusing to withdraw divorce court case against husband

Human Rights NewsHuman Rights Watch: Doctor hauled before Ghana’s Medical and Dental Council after refusing to withdraw divorce court case against husband

Dr Eugene K. Dordoye, a former director of Ghana’s Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, is reported to have asked Dr Jemima Amo-Tachie on Wednesday, 3 February 2021, to withdraw a divorce lawsuit she filed against her husband, Dr Yaw Opoku-Boateng, at a High Court in Accra.

But Dr Jemima Amo-Tachie, who was no longer living together with her husband as of that time, disagreed strongly to that proposal.

She had instituted the legal proceedings, also seeking sole custody of the only two children (both girls) she and her husband had in their seven years of her marriage, for a serious reason Media Without Borders will bring out in due time.  

Later on that Wednesday, Dr Dordoye, who is currently the head of the Department of Psychological Medicine and Mental Health at the University of Health and Allied Sciences, asked her to meet with him the following day at Corporate Wellness Consultancy, a private facility in Accra.

And he also asked that she come to the clinic with a relative. The reason for the invitation was not immediately mentioned to her.

Dr Eugene Kobla Dordoye

She guessed it had to do with a progress report on a psychotherapy she had sought at Dr Dordoye’s facility about three months back for a relation who had suffered a severe form of trauma from abuse. 

The following day, Dr Amo-Tachie went to the facility, accompanied by a family friend, Clement Twih-Barimah.

After they exchanged greetings, Dr Dordoye went back to his proposal, seeking to talk Dr Amo-Tachie out of pursuing the divorce litigation. And again, she declined.

“You are psychotic. You need to take medication. I have spoken to your husband for three and a half hours and I’ve come to the conclusion that you are psychotic. If you don’t withdraw the case from court, I will report you to the Medical and Dental Council,” Dr Dordoye is quoted as telling Dr Amo-Tachie during the meeting.

Twi-Barimah, who was part of the meeting, told Media Without Borders that Dr Dordoye also said he had two tablets and one injection to administer to Dr Amo-Tachie immediately and that he (Dr Dordoye) became furious as she held her ground against his alleged move.

Twi-Barimah said he believed that Dr Dordoye, considering how he insisted several times that she take the prescriptions, could have administered the drugs to her or injected her forcibly if he had not been present.

Drama

On Friday, 12 February 2021, which was just about one week after that meeting, Dr Dordoye appeared uninvited at the private residence of Dr Amo-Tachie’s parents.

Dr Amo-Tachie was not around at the time. Her parents wondered how the stranger located their house. Their daughter wondered, too, when she was told upon her return about a piece of drama that unfolded in her absence.

During the visit, Dr Dordoye revisited his demand for the divorce case between Dr Amo-Tachie and her husband to be dropped. In response, Dr Amo-Tachie’s parents said they only knew of a different relative being taken to his (Dr Dordoye’s facility) for professional help, not of their daughter seeking his counsel on any marital issues.

Dr Dordoye

Then, he told the old couple that their daughter was psychotic and that he had recorded in a file that she had agreed to start medication. He also said a one-week ultimatum he gave her to start the medication had elapsed and that she would face the Medical and Dental Council for noncompliance with his prescription.

The couple asked him at what point their daughter became his patient for her to have consented to take medication when it was only another relative who was on psychotherapy. They also asked why he was following up to the house with an ultimatum if she had, indeed, agreed to take the medications he prescribed.

In response, Dr Dordoye said he had only come to mention what he had just said about their daughter. And without saying more than also hinting that a report he had compiled about their daughter would be submitted in court during the divorce trial, he rose to take his leave in anger.

But before he closed the gate, the couple told him they suspected foul play at work. Their suspicion was based on a comment somebody was reported to have made, prior to that strange visit by Dr Dordoye, that he (name withheld for now) would make sure their daughter never practised as a medical doctor in Ghana because of the divorce lawsuit she initiated.

Dr Amo-Tachie came under pressure to choose between her court case and licence

Reactions

Media Without Borders engaged Dr Dordoye in recorded telephone interviews on Wednesday, 12 July 2023, and Thursday, 13 July 2023, on the matter.

When asked during one of the interviews if he met with Dr Amo-Tachie in his office, a yes was his answer.

Secondly, when asked why he invited her to his clinic, the psychiatrist claimed Dr Amo-Tachie was his patient.

And again, when asked if he attempted to administer any medications to her in his office, he said he would not comment on that issue because “I do not have the permission of Dr Amo-Tachie to divulge the encounter I had with her”.

Subsequently, Media Without Borders turned attention to Dr Amo-Tachie for her own comments on the responses from Dr Dordoye.

“I was never his patient. And when he invited me to his office, I did not go to him as my marriage counsellor. He said he had made a diagnosis based on the phone call he had with my ex-husband and he felt I needed to start taking the medications immediately there. He said he had two tablets and an injection. He said I should choose one for me to start immediately.

“You don’t make a conditional diagnosis, a diagnosis conjured because I refused to withdraw a divorce case from court. It means if I withdraw the case from court, there is no diagnosis. Besides, you don’t make a diagnosis outside a consulting room based on what somebody has said outside a consulting room on a phone. It’s totally unethical,” Dr Amo-Tachie said.

A file photo

She added: “And to make it worse, when he went to my parents, he claimed that he had documented in his file that I had consented to start medication, which can never hold because, number one, I was never his patient to begin with. Number two, there was no such agreement because I left the outfit with Dordoye being angry for declining his request and rejecting his diagnosis. What exactly did he mean that I had consented?”

Appearance before Medical and Dental Council

Following Dr Dordoye’s threat, the Medical and Dental Council invited Dr Amo-Tachie to appear before its Practice Committee and Health Assessment Panel.

She faced the Practice Committee on Wednesday, 7 June 2023. And on Wednesday, 12 July 2023, she appeared before the council’s Health Assessment Panel, too.

The Registrar of Ghana’s Medical and Dental Council, Dr Divine Ndonbi Banyubala.

On each occasion, she was accompanied by her lawyers. She also submitted to the council a report compiled by Ghana’s former Chief Psychiatrist, Professor Joseph Bediako Asare, on her mental wellbeing.

Prof. Asare had assessed and declared her fit to practise as a medical doctor prior to the council’s invitation.

Dr Amo-Tachie went for that assessment at the private facility of Ghana’s most trusted psychiatrist on the advice of her lawyers to silence her critics on the ongoing divorce case.

Prof. Joseph Bediako Asare, Ghana’s former Chief Psychiatrist, is the country’s most experienced and trusted psychiatrist.

The report put together by Prof. Asare disproves the one Dr Dordoye, Prof. Asare’s former trainee, is reported to have compiled without ethically assessing Dr Amo-Tachie.

The Medical and Dental Council is yet to come out with the outcomes of its sittings on the petition Dr Dordoye filed against Dr Amo-Tachie.

Investigations and experts’ opinions

Other medical professionals and experts Media Without Borders interacted with in the course of its investigations on this matter all attested to the fact that Dr Amo-Tachie had no mental health issue whatsoever. They suspected that Dr Dordoye had a personal interest against her.

During the investigations, the experts also revealed that there were actually medications that could render people psychotic if administered to them. Dr Dordoye is said to have refused to mention the medications he reportedly wanted to administer to Dr Amo-Tachie by force after she refused to withdraw the divorce case from court.

Experts told Media Without Borders they suspected foul play at work

The experts suspected Dr Dordoye planned to harm Dr Amo-Tachie, for which reason he was angry in the consulting room with Dr Amo-Tachie for refusing to take the medications and followed up to the house in an attempt to force her to take the medications.

They suspected that the medications could have resulted in psychoticism if she had taken them, for which reason Dr Dordoye foretold her parents that he had already documented it in a file that Dr Amo-Tachie was psychotic and threatened that the diagnosis would appear in court in the same divorce case he had unsuccessfully asked Dr Amo-Tachie to withdraw.

Media Without Borders asks these critical questions below as more publications and revelations are set to follow in a series on this matter.

1.     Is it ethical for a medical doctor to use his position to force someone to withdraw a case from court?

2.    Is it not outright callousness and abuse of power for a medical doctor to impose or confer a fabricated diagnosis on someone who is not their patient just because the person refuses to withdraw a case from court or to do their bidding?

3.    Is it right for a medical doctor to fabricate a diagnosis and threaten a colleague to have the colleague’s professional practice licence withdrawn because the colleague has refused to withdraw an ongoing case from court?

4.    Is it ethical for a medical doctor to force someone, be the person a patient or not, to take medications in a consulting room against the person’s will with or without diagnosis?

5.    Is it right for a medical doctor to form a diagnosis for someone who is not their patient based only on a telephone conversation they have with the opponents of that person?

6.    Is it right for a medical doctor to follow someone, who is not their patient, to the house to force the person to take medications?

7.    Is it right for a medical doctor to recommend an unlicensed medical practitioner for a case that is pending in court?

8.    Is it right for a medical doctor to refuse to let a supposed patient know what medications they want to administer to the supposed patient?

9.    Is it wrong for someone to ask what medications a medical doctor wants to administer to them?

10.  Is it right for a medical doctor to force relatives to initiate medications for a diagnosis an individual does not have?

11.   Is it right for a medical doctor to get angry and issue an ultimatum because an individual in their consulting rooms has refused to be coerced into taking medications for a diagnosis the individual does not have?

12.  Is it right for a medical doctor to fabricate a diagnosis on an individual who is not a patient and present a report on the same fabricated diagnosis to the opponents of that individual to be used to defame the individual?

13.  Is it right for a medical doctor to fight with relatives who reject a diagnosis when they realise that the diagnosis has been fabricated to defame their relation?

14.  Is it safe for a medical doctor who fabricates diagnosis to practise medicine or hold any position of trust and power?

Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org

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