Mumbai: The High Court in London dismissed the appeal filed by an Indian Oncologist to set aside the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) which barred him from practicing in the United Kingdon
Medical Dialogues team had earlier reported that the tribunal had barred the oncologist Dr Pantula Sastry from practicing in the United Kingdom after he was found guilty for a patient’s death at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in 2014.
A medical practitioners’ tribunal concluded that the doctor had knowingly given high dose BEAM chemotherapy followed by autologous stem cell transplantation to a patient with lymphoma whose test results suggested she would not survive it when he was working at Mumbai-based Hospital, according to judgment quoted in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
The concerned case is of a patient, Sushma Agarwal, 55, who was admitted to Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH) for treatment of a condition known as Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Dr Sastry had performed an autologous bone marrow transplant on the patient.
Even after the treatment, the patient’s condition didn’t improve. When the son approached a doctor at a different hospital and there he was told that his mother’s CD34 counts had been inadequate for the transplant. However, the patient died 23 days after the transplant.
Disappointed with the treatment, the patient’s son alleged that the doctor performed the transplant with the knowledge that the CD34 count was inadequate and subsequently registered a case of medical negligence with the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC). But no hearing arrived in this regard.
Next year in 2015, when the son somehow came to know that the doctor had relocated to the UK, and was practicing there, he reported his mother’s case to the UK’s General Medical Council (GMC), which allowed under the Medical Act 1983 to consider events overseas that might affect the fitness to practice of doctors working in the UK.
After conducting an investigation, GMC initiated proceedings against the doctor in the UK Medical Tribunal to ascertain if the doctor is responsible for the patient’s death or not.
In its final hearing on August 1, 2018 the tribunal found that in the patient’s case, Dr Sastry had gone ahead with chemotherapy and transplant ‘in full knowledge of the inadequate number’ of CD34. Moreover, the tribunal found that he was incompetent to conduct as the procedure was ‘outside his area of expertise.’
During the hearing, Dr Sastry argued that he had been given two different CD34 numbers by the laboratory, so had reverted to an older method of estimating stem cells. But the written laboratory report, the doctor’s contemporary case report, and the death report he wrote a few weeks later all gave the same, lower figure for CD34 cells. He told the tribunal that he had been pressured into writing these figures by hospital management, but this claim was not accepted.
Dr Sastry contended, “At the time, he had received two different counts of CD34 from the laboratory. The laboratory telephoned him and told him the count was 0.5% (adequate), as opposed to what was then mentioned in the report – 0.05% (inadequate).”
However, the tribunal found his claims to be unsubstantiated and further barred him from practicing in UK.
He then moved to the High Court in London and drafted an appeal to dismiss the decision taken by the tribunal.
The high court heard his application on January 20, 2019, and in a decision on February 25, the court dismissed the appeal, ruling that the doctor is not fit to practice, on account of causing the death of a patient, reports Mumbai mirror.