Consultant admits failures in care of pneumonia victim before General Medical Council

A senior doctor has admitted failing to provide adequate care to an elderly woman who died hours after being discharged from the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick.

Consultant physician Dr Ken Graham has been giving evidence to a General Medical Council fitness to practice hearing in Manchester.

The former medical director at NHS Shetland admitted several failings in his assessment of pensioner Eileen Peterson when she was taken to hospital on 9th March 2005.

She was wrongly diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and inappropriately given a course of amoxicillin before being discharged to her care home, Taing House. She died there five hours later, suffering from pneumonia.

Dr Graham has also admitted that in 2006 he told Sheriff Principal Sir Stephen Young at a fatal accident inquiry that he had diagnosed Mrs Peterson with pneumonia before she was sent home, and that her records were wrongly recorded.

The inquiry subsequently cleared Shetland Health Board of any blame for Mrs Peterson’s death, although the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman upheld a complaint made by Mrs Peterson’s son Michael following a two-year investigation.

The doctor also admitted failing to adequately assess Mrs Peterson’s hydration levels, or the “nature and extent” of her infection, and making a poor clinical note in relation to her condition.

Dr Graham, who started as medical director in 2006, stood down from the post in August – although his decision to leave the post is not linked in any way with Mrs Peterson’s death.

He has continued his work as a consultant physician at the Gilbert Bain.

The hearing, chaired by Professor Brian Gomes da Costa, continues tomorrow. It is expected to decide next week on whether Dr Graham’s fitness to practice is impaired.


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