December 11 2013 Latest news:
Lizzie Parry, health reporter
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
An Ipswich Hospital doctor has been cleared after an investigation into errors made nearly seven years after she failed to spot a baby girl’s fatal condition ruled she poses no “undue risk to patients”.
Dr Salawati Abdul-Salam allowed nine-month-old Aleesha Evans to be discharged from the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport, in August 2006 after telling her parents to give her Calpol for a viral infection.
The little girl was suffering from blood poisoning and died the next day.
A year earlier Colin Perriam, 66, died after Dr Abdul-Salam analysed six-month old blood samples, then wrongly diagnosed a ruptured ulcer as constipation.
The medic was suspended for four months in March 2010 then allowed to return to work under a raft of conditions and has been subject to conditional registration ever since.
Her case was reviewed at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester in July, but the panel, chaired by Professor David Katz, ran out of time to make a ruling.
The panel has now ruled that her fitness to practise is “no longer impaired”.
It means Dr Abdul-Salam can return to work at Ipswich Hospital’s A&E department without restriction because the panel has found she no longer presents “an unacceptable risk to patient safety”.
Professor Katz said: “The panel has been very aware of the support from the hospital and your colleagues and of the example of high standards that has been set during the period you have been under conditions.
“This has facilitated the way you have been able to fulfil the requirements of those conditions.
“Therefore it expects that you will continue to maintain such standards in your future practice.
“The Panel determined that you did not wilfully breach condition one on your registration and that although there have been two new incidents, ‘a fair sample of your work’ indicates that you do not pose an unacceptable risk to patient safety.
“Therefore it has determined that your fitness to practise is not currently impaired by reason of your deficient professional performance.”
Welcoming the decision Ipswich Hospital’s Dr David Hartin, consultant in emergency medicine and Dr Abdul-Salam’s superior, said: “We will continue to work with Dr Salam in delivering excellent care for patients.
“All her colleagues in the emergency department are very pleased at the outcome of the GMC hearing.”
Dr Abdul-Salam was allowed to continue her career in August 2010 under supervision at Ipswich Hospital, where she still works as a medium grade doctor.
At a hearing last October a panel flagged up a number of clinical errors made while she was working at Ipswich Hospital but ruled she presented “no undue risk to patients”.
In her latest review hearing in July, the panel was told of two more errors over the past eight months.
One man suffered an accidental overdose of the painkiller Oramorph after Dr Abdul-Salam doubled his daily dose then sent him home without further advice, the hearing was told.
He was taken to hospital by ambulance three days later after he was found “unrousable” with signs of respiratory depression.
Giving evidence the medic described the incident as “‘a small error with potentially big consequences”.
The most recent incident happened in May when an 89-year-old woman was taken to hospital the day after a fall in her garden.
Dr Abdul-Salam discharged the patient and told her to take painkillers, but her injury was later found to be a fractured neck.
Her consultant supervisor, Dr Hartin, told the panel he employed the doctor as the “lesser risk” than leaving the A&E department short-staffed.
Dr Hartin told the hearing that Dr Abdul-Salam did not make a greater number or more serious errors than any other doctor of a similar grade and experience in his department.
The panel decided the incidents were not serious enough to warrant a fresh finding of impairment or to extend the doctor’s conditions.
“The Panel viewed the two new incidents as different to those which had led to your referral to the GMC,” said Professor Katz.
“It accepted the evidence of Dr Hartin that such errors might be made by other doctors at a similar grade.
“Neither of these errors would have resulted in initiation of referral to the GMC and thus have only emerged into this context because of the on-going nature of the current proceedings.
“Thus, in the Panel’s judgement, while they cannot and should not be disregarded, they are not intrinsically a repetition of past episodes.”