Shropshire GP injected man 'to hasten death'

A "stressed" doctor administered a high dose of diamorphine to a terminally-ill 65-year-old so he could "die in peace", a disciplinary panel was told.

Dr William Lloyd Bassett, of Brown Clee Medical Practice, Shropshire, allegedly injected up to 10 times the accepted amount into a man who had lung cancer.

The General Medical Council claimed he administered a dangerously high dose with the intent of hastening death.

The doctor denied that, but accepted administering 100mg of diamorphine.

Dr Bassett also accepted he took no action to reverse it and that his actions put the patient at risk of respiratory failure.

The General Medical Council (GMC) called in an expert who found that the 100mg administered was between six and 10 times greater than he would have expected to see.

He also said Dr Bassett carried out the injection "at a time when his judgment was affected by a distressed patient and his family, stress from overwork and tiredness due to an interrupted night's sleep on the previous night".

The GMC alleged Dr Bassett's fitness to practise is impaired because of his misconduct.

The disciplinary panel was told that on 29 May 2009, the doctor carried out his fourth visit to "Patient A" within 24 hours.

'Highly regarded'

It heard Patient A's family had no grievance with him and did not wish to take part in the GMC proceedings.

Peter Atherton, counsel for the GMC, said it alleged Dr Bassett "administered a dangerously high dose of diamorphine with the intent of hastening the patient's death".

Mr Atherton said at the time of the incident the doctor was "highly regarded" and had a particular interest in palliative care.

The hearing was told Dr Bassett said in his notes it was "large dose but he is dying and I would like him to die in peace".

Later in his notes, the doctor described telling the family about what he had done.

He said they discussed the high dose of morphine and were "told honestly what morphine did, ie) hasten death". The notes also said: "Family accepts this."

Nurses who were caring for the patient reported the incident as they believed it was a "serious departure" from end of life care standards.

On 12 June 2009, Dr Bassett gave police a prepared statement in which he said he had injected the full dose of 100mg of diamorphine "accidentally" due to the fact he was "struggling".

He said he had not intended to inject the full contents of the syringe.

The hearing has been scheduled to last three days.

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