Belfast Telegraph

Anaesthetist who put patients at risk found guilty of misconduct

By Victoria O'Hara

A consultant who made a catalogue of errors treating four patients under anaesthetic –including a six-year-old boy– has been found guilty of misconduct by a medical watchdog.

Dr Mukesh Chugh, employed by the Western Health and Social Care Trust in Londonderry, admitted to a number of allegations including leaving patients who were under anaesthetic in the care of unqualified staff.

Dr Chugh, a consultant anaesthetist, also admitted failing to make adequate medical notes which a General Medical Council (GMC) panel said "potentially placed patients at risk".

Among the proven list of errors between 2011 and 2012 were:

  • Failing to adequately document the history and examination of a 71-year-old woman.
  • Altering a patient's medical notes.
  • Leaving a patient in the care of a doctor and a theatre nurse while anaesthetised.
  • Leaving the operating theatre without informing the surgeon.

An investigation launched by the GMC found his conduct to be both "misleading and dishonest".

The panel heard evidence from one expert witness doctor stating his conduct "fell seriously below the standard expected of a reasonably competent consultant anaesthetist".

One incident that was investigated involved a 71-year-old woman who underwent a nasal polypectomy in October 2011.

The procedure – the removal of abnormal tissue in the nose or sinuses – took place in the North West Independent Hospital, where he also provided cover as a self-employed consultant.

But after being discharged the pensioner was admitted to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital with a suspected perforation of the throat.

It was discovered he had later changed a note that showed he had used the incorrect size of mask–a laryngeal mask airway (LMA) – during the procedure.

He altered the notes from a size 'five' to a size 'four' mask– the correct size for a woman.

But a nurse's records revealed he had used the larger mask.

In a separate incident, evidence was also given that in August 2011 he left the operating theatre during a procedure to remove the right side of a patient's colon.

He was absent from the operating theatre for eight-10 minutes, and left the patient with a nurse not suitably qualified, in a breach of anaesthetic guidance that states they must be present except for exceptional circumstances.

The panel said his actions "fell below the expected standard".

The GMC panel also said that while no patients came to any harm, in failing to provide good clinical care he placed them at "unacceptable levels of risk".

The GMC found the misconduct arose "at a time of particular difficult personal circumstances, rather than as a result of deep- seated attitudinal problems".

He apologised to the patients involved and said he "would never act in this way again".

A Western Health Trust spokesman said: "The Western Trust will not comment on individual employees for reasons of confidentiality."

Factfile

  • August 3, 2011: Dr Chugh leaves the operating theatre during procedure without informing the surgeon.
  • October 13, 2011: He doesn't conduct an adequate assessment on a woman facing a nasal polypectomy. Later he changes an entry in notes.
  • June 18, 2012: A boy aged 12 undergoes a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. Dr Chugh fails to assess or monitor him properly. A boy aged six is scheduled for an adenoidectomy. He fails to adequately document patient's history.

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