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Urologist is jailed after admitting manslaughter of woman with kidney infection

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e3780 (Published 28 May 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3780
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

A consultant urologist has been jailed for two years after admitting manslaughter over the death of a 37 year old single mother and altering notes to try to cover up his failings.

Sudhanshu Garg, who was in his first consultant post, was on call at Bradford Royal Infirmary over the August bank holiday weekend in 2008 when Lisa Quinn was admitted on Friday 22 August with a kidney infection. Before that, the court was told, she was a fit and healthy young mother.

Garg, 44, saw her 24 hours after she was admitted but failed to order an ultrasound scan until the next day. Robert Smith QC, prosecuting, said that Garg could have ordered her transfer to Leeds for emergency treatment on Sunday evening but chose not to, despite a “rapidly developing and life threatening infection.”

A nephrostomy was finally carried out on the evening of Monday 25 August, but three hours later she collapsed and died, leaving two children aged 12 and 10 years.

Sentencing Garg at Leeds Crown Court, Mr Justice Globe said that Garg had been on call for more than a week, but that did not excuse what had happened. He added, “Your plea [of guilty] means that your breach of duty was causative of Lisa Quinn’s death, and cumulatively it amounts to a disturbing picture of a failure to take action.”

He told Garg that if he had performed his duties correctly “the overwhelming probability is that she could have survived.” The falsification of the notes was “a blatant attempt to disguise and conceal evidence of your failures.”

The judge said that it was extremely rare for a doctor to be convicted of gross negligence manslaughter. It is rarer still for a doctor to plead guilty to the charge. In most cases where doctors have contested manslaughter charges juries have acquitted them.

In 2003 Feda Mulhem, a specialist registrar, was sentenced to eight months in prison after admitting manslaughter but walked free because he had already served a longer period on remand. He had made the fatal mistake of ordering a junior doctor to inject vincristine into the spine of a teenager with leukaemia, Wayne Jowett, instead of into a vein.

Garg qualified in India in 1991, but all his post-qualification training was done in the United Kingdom, and he obtained his first consultant post at Bradford in 2006. He was sacked in March 2009.

His counsel, Mark Ellison QC, described him in court as a “broken man,” who was “sad, gentle, withdrawn, and dependent” and who had anxiety and depression. Ellison said that the urology department was “dysfunctional” and felt “under siege” from the hospital’s management, which made Garg feel “paranoid” about an inquiry into Quinn’s death.

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3780

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