Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba And Gross Negligence Manslaughter

A time for reflection, a need to re-focus

It is hard to believe that almost 3 years have passed since we began to look at the influx of gross negligence manslaughter cases being brought against doctors, in our blog " A dark approach to clinical responsibility". 2015 saw prosecutions brought against Optometrist Honey Rose, Anaesthetist Errol Cornish and, most notably, Paediatrician Hadiza Bawa-Garba. These convictions not only shot fear of criminal prosecution throughout the medical profession for types of errors witnessed on a daily basis throughout the NHS, but sparked a bitter battle between doctors and the very organisation they rely upon to protect them and patients alike; the General Medical Council ("GMC").

Whilst all of the cases mentioned above raise important matters within the debate, the case of Dr Bawa-Garba has been the most high-profile. During the last three years she has been convicted of gross negligence manslaughter, given a suspended sentence, stripped of her certification to practice medicine, and has this week won an appeal to have this reinstated. This blog looks back at the events of the last 3 years, and considers what is yet to come for the medical profession and patients alike.

The case of Jack Adcock

It was the tragic death of Jack Adcock in 2011 that led to the investigation against Dr Bawa-Garba. She was his treating paediatrician at Leicester Royal Infirmary when a catalogue of errors led to a failure to diagnose and treat sepsis and, ultimately, Jack's death. Amongst others, some of these errors included:

Delay in receiving blood results; Delay in diagnosis of pneumonia on X-ray; Failure to ensure timely administration of antibiotics; Failures by nursing staff to report deterioration; Mistaking patient as having a Do Not Resuscitate order. These errors were all in the background of overworked and under-resourced staff which had been flagged up to the hospital on multiple occasions before. There was a shortage of Consultant's in the hospital, with junior doctors being required to fill senior roles within the rota.

Whilst certainly not acceptable levels of practice, the errors identified in Jack's case are not unusual and regularly feature in medical negligence cases brought throughout the country. It was therefore a shock to doctors and lawyers alike, when it was announced that Dr Bawa-Garba was to be charged with Gross Negligence Manslaughter.

Conviction of Gross Negligence Manslaughter

To be found guilty of...

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