Shropshire GP is warned over patient's death

A Shropshire doctor has been given a formal warning after he was cleared of intentionally hastening the death of a patient with a dose of diamorphine.

Dr William Bassett admitted he injected 100mg of the drug into the 65-year-old lung cancer patient in May 2009.

The General Medical Council alleged the Ditton Priors GP did so in a moment of stress so the man could "die in peace".

But a medical disciplinary panel ruled the GP, based at Brown Clee Medical Practice, made a genuine mistake.

The hearing in Manchester was told Dr Bassett informed his manager after the death and also told health trust bosses about the circumstances.

'Serious departure'

The panel ruled he could have easily covered up any deliberate wrongdoing.

The panel was told nurses who had been caring for the patient reported the incident as they believed it was a "serious departure" from the end-of-life care standards.

The matter was referred to West Mercia Police and Dr Bassett gave a prepared statement in which he said he had injected the full dose "accidentally" due to the fact he was "struggling".

He said he had not intended to inject the full contents of the syringe and he accepted he did not give any thought to trying to reverse the effects of the overdose but that he believed what had happened was "in the best interests" of the patient.

The hearing was told the dead patient's family had no grievance with Dr Bassett and did not wish to take part in the proceedings.

In finding - on the balance of probabilities - that he did not hasten the death, panel chairman Dr Surendra Kumar said it was "likely" no-one would have known what had happened but for Dr Bassett's honesty in reporting the incident.

No charges

He said: "It (the panel) considered that it would be inherently unlikely that if you had deliberately injected the patient with an overdose of diamorphine that you would have told anyone.

"The panel has borne in mind that you did not seek to hide the fact that you had given a large dose of diamorphine to the patient. It has noted that it would have been easy for you to do so."

The panel said Dr Bassett usually used 10mg and 30mg ampoules of diamorphine but none were available on the day in question and it was impractical to obtain other quantities because of the secluded location of the practice.

He had intended to inject 20mg but despite his intentions injected 100mg by mistake Dr Kumar said the error was "so serious as to be considered deplorable" and it amounted to misconduct.

But the panel concluded his fitness to practise was not impaired and decided to issue a formal warning on his registration.

No criminal charges have been brought against Dr Bassett and an inquest is set to take place into the patient's death at a later date.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites