Psychiatrist who shared conspiracy theories with paranoid patient suspended

A doctor writing notes. File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / photography33.

A London psychiatrist who formed an inappropriate relationship with a patient that contributed to his manic state has been suspended for 12 months.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) issued the suspension after finding social media communications between Dr. Nina Leah Desjardins and the patient were in violation of physician/patient boundaries.

Desjardins, who had privileges to practice at the Elgin St. Thomas General Hospital, treated the patient for long-standing anxiety and depression from July 2017 to February 2019. A professional misconduct investigation against Desjardins was launched after the patient’s wife filed a complaint with the college.

According to the college discipline committee report, Desjardins spoke to the patient during appointments about politics, current conspiracy theories, QAnon, reality vs different dimensions, “Morpheus” from the Matrix movies, and the “third eye.” She provided the patient with a list of QAnon-linked social media accounts to follow. For several weeks, the two exchanged direct messages on Twitter. It was during that time, Desjardins was said to have shared her distrust in psychiatry with the patient. He began to refer to the doctor as his “guru”, “mentor”, “Master”, and “muse.”  She eventually blocked him on the social media platform after he expressed suicidal thoughts.

“Given the circumstances, Dr. Desjardins’ communications with [the patient] were inappropriate and she failed to recognize or respond to the decline in his mental health that was clearly documented in their social media direct messaging and placed him at increased risk,” the report states.

Desjardins denied to the hospital chief of psychiatry of having anything more than a short exchange about conspiracy theories with the patient. She was also found to have known the patient was using cannabis and “mushrooms” simultaneously with his prescribed medications which included anti-depressants and did not advise him against it or report the drug dependence to the Ministry of Transportation.

The college concluded Desjardins failed to meet the standard of care, showed a lack of skill and judgment, exposed patients to harm, and that her documentation did not meet the standard of care.

In addition to the 12 month suspension, Desjardins has been ordered to see a psychiatrist once a month for two years, enroll in courses on professionalism and communications, and pay the college $6,000 in costs. She must also retain a clinical supervisor before she can reopen her practice at the end of the year long suspension.