HOW MEDICAL PROTECTION HELPED
Dr S was invited to a police interview under caution to investigate a potential criminal charge of gross negligence manslaughter. Dr S immediately called Medical Protection and spoke to a medicolegal adviser (MLA) - a qualified doctor with additional legal training.
A solicitor, experienced in the field and familiar with the vulnerabilities that doctors face, was instructed by Medical Protection to represent Dr S at the police interview.
Dr S was naturally distressed at this development and was provided with details of the Medical Protection counselling service at the outset.
In advance of the police interview, the MLA and the solicitor met with Dr S and prepared an anticipatory statement. At the conclusion of the police investigation, the matter was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service but they decided not to pursue criminal charges.
The practice undertook a Significant Event Analysis (SEA) and the MLA, together with the solicitor, assisted Dr S in providing a statement. The SEA did identify that Dr S erred in prescribing amoxicillin, but also identified some mitigating factors (including the fact that the practice computer system went down) and made some recommendations to minimise the risk of a similar incident in the future. The incident was reported to the CQC.
The MLA advised Dr S to discuss the matter at his appraisal and directed Dr S to educational resources (including those provided by Medical Protection) to assist with remediation.
The family then made a complaint to the practice and the MLA assisted Dr S with the provision of the response.
Eighteen months after the incident, Dr S was called to give evidence at an inquest into the death of Mr J and Medical Protection instructed a barrister to individually represent Dr S. In order to prepare for the inquest, a conference with the barrister, the instructed solicitor and the MLA was arranged. In addition, the MLA involved the MPS press office to assist with any potential media attention: an anticipatory press statement was prepared in advance of the inquest.
Dr S came over well at the inquest and the coroner returned a narrative verdict referencing the fact that Mr J died as a consequence of an anaphylactic reaction secondary to the administration of amoxicillin. The coroner indicated that whilst he had considered making recommendations to prevent further deaths (under Regulation 28 of the Coroner’s Rules), he had not chosen to do so on the basis of the remedial action taken by both the practice and Dr S. The family were unhappy and asked the coroner to refer Dr S to the GMC – the coroner declined to do so, so the family referred Dr S to the GMC themselves.
A few months later, the GMC opened an investigation into Dr S. Medical Protection helped Dr S to prepare a letter to the GMC, which included reference to Dr S’s insight and the steps that he had taken to remediate.
The GMC subsequently closed their investigation with no action (other than some advice relating to the GMC prescribing guidance), on the basis that this was an isolated incident for which Dr S had demonstrated insight and had taken appropriate steps to remediate at an early stage.