Indian-origin doctor found guilty of fatal injection

February 8th, 2009 - 11:34 am ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 7 (IANS) An Indian-origin doctor has been found guilty of manslaughter after she injected an intensive care patient with adrenaline against the advice of three colleagues.
Priya Ramnath, 40, was Friday given a six-month suspended jail sentence at Birmingham crown court for her involvement in the death of Patricia Leighton at Stafford District General hospital in July 1998.

In addition to going against the wishes of three colleagues, she failed to speak to a consultant anaesthetist at the hospital before injecting the drug into Leighton.

Ramnath, whose sentence was suspended for two years, came back from the US last year to face the charge after being threatened with extradition.

The jury returned a 10-2 guilty verdict against Ramnath, who denied manslaughter by gross negligence.

Leighton, a 51-year-old arthritis patient, had been hospitalised with a serious foot infection and died from heart failure shortly after she was injected with the drug.

Prosecutors said that within moments of the injection Leighton sat up in her bed and shouted: “What’s happening to me? I am going to die.” She lost consciousness shortly afterwards.

But John Coakley, an expert in intensive care medicine at London’s Homerton Hospital, told the trial Leighton probably died of septic shock - not the injection.

Members of Leighton’s family said in a statement: “We are happy that the jury have returned a guilty verdict and that justice has at last been served, and hope that she will never be able to wreck another family’s life.”

However, the judge ruled that the interests of justice did not require her to take away Ramnath’s liberty. She said Ramnath, who has two children and lives in the US, panicked in the “pressure cooker” of the hospital’s intensive therapy unit.

“The jury has found that Mrs. Leighton would have lived longer, perhaps days, but for your gross negligence,” she added.

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