Working with doctors Working for patients

 

Introduction

Dr Hargreaves has continued to underperform since his return to work. The receptionist, Jenny, comes to see Dr Singh because she's concerned that patients may be at risk.

(The story so far...)

Dr Hargreaves has recently return to work following the death of his wife following a long illness. He has been the subject of a complaint from Brian Wood, to whom he mistakenly prescribed penicillin in spite of the fact that Brian's penicillin allergy was on record.

Jenny

Jenny

Honestly Dr Singh, I gave him the patient records for this morning's surgery and he just looks awful - I can't imagine he's getting any sleep at all. And I'm sure I caught a whiff of alcohol too, though that might be from last night - Mark said he saw him coming out of the White Hart.

Dr Singh

Dr Singh

Well he's had a lot to deal with recently. I'd suggest he had more time off but he keeps saying that work's the only thing that's keeping him going.

Jenny

Jenny

Yes but that's not the issue is it? I mean what happens if he makes another mistake? Or what if he's started drinking again? You know what happened last time...

What should the doctor do...? (Select A,B or C)

A

Report Dr Hargreaves to the GMC?

B

Speak to Dr Hargreaves when surgery is over, and try to persuade him to have more time off?

C

Consult the GMC without giving Dr Hargreaves' name, and call the local Primary Care Trust (PCT)?

Dr Singh

See what the doctor did

Dr Singh decided to call the GMC for confidential advice, and to help him come to a view about the risk to patients. He went in to see Dr Hargreaves immediately after speaking to the GMC, told him he had decided to inform the Primary Care Trust (PCT) and asked him to stop seeing patients immediately. Dr Singh was very supportive and persuaded Dr Hargreaves to go to his GP and to make an appointment with a counsellor.

References

You must support colleagues who have problems with their performance or health. But you must put patient safety first at all times.14
(Good Medical Practice paragraph 43)