Intended for healthcare professionals


English prison doctor struck off

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 20 February 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:485
  1. Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
  1. BMJ

    A retired prison doctor was struck off the UK medical register last week for prescribing lethaldoses of methadone to two prisoners without checking their medical history.

    The General Medical Council found Dr Archibald Alexander, aged 63, of Croydon, Surrey, guilty of serious professional misconduct.

    The professional conduct committee, chaired by Dr Jeremy Lee-Potter, found Dr Alexander had been “irresponsible” in prescribing fatal doses of the heroin substitute to Carl Owens and David Davies, two inmates at Brixton Prison in south London with no histories of heroin misuse.

    The committee was “deeply concerned” at Dr Alexander's failure to observe the principles of good clinical practice, which require a conscientious assessment of the history, symptoms, and signs of a patient's condition before prescribing drugs, said Dr Lee-Potter.

    The committee accepted that Mr Owens and Mr Davies had tricked Dr Alexander into believing thatthey were addicts with withdrawal symptoms, but it found that he had acted irresponsibly in their treatment.

    Mr Owens, aged 22, who was on remand on theft charges, fell into a coma and died in May 1994.

    Mr Davies, also 22, was prescribed the same treatment the following September and died on the day he was due to be released from a seven day sentence for non-payment of an £85 ($136) fine.

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