Doctor found guilty of killing patient

Michael Stevenson, a doctor from Cumbria, England, has been sentenced.  Stevenson was charged, and pleaded guilty, to accidentally killing a migraine patient.

It happened like this.  Dr Stevenson was a doctor with 25 years of experience behind him.  He got a call in January, 2005 from the daughter of Mrs Marjorie Wright.  It seemed that her mother, a widow of 58, was suffering a migraine.  She regularly had migraine attacks.

The doctor came to the house that morning and injected her with Diamorphine, a strong opioid.  He had actually given her 30mg – 6x the normal amount.  To make matters worse, he didn’t stay to monitor her condition – to see if she would have any adverse reactions to the drug.  Minutes later, she was dead.

In the court’s opinion, Stevenson was guilty of negligence and overwork (although there is some disagreement about just how overworked he was).  He will not go to prison, but he won’t be practising medicine again.

It’s the policy of Cumbria Primary Care Trust, which oversees doctors making house calls in the area, that a doctor only carry one strength of Diamorphine with them.

Judge Richard McComb said,"I have before me statements from Mrs Wright’s daughter and from one of her brothers testifying to the devastating loss that Mrs Wright’s death has meant to them and her young grandson.  A court cannot fail to be moved by such clear expressions of grief.  Nothing the court can do can repair their loss.  No punishment inflicted on you will ever seem adequate to expiate their sorrow."

Read more from the BBC – Overdose killing GP spared jail.

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