• Thursday, July 25, 2024

News

Doctor cleared to continue practice after illegal ICU visit during lockdown

Ashbal Chaudhary claimed that he was unaware he was violating lockdown rules

Photo: iStock

By: Pramod Thomas

A doctor, who faced allegations of falsely entering an intensive care unit (ICU) during the Covid-19 pandemic to visit a critically ill relative, has been allowed to retain his job, according to reports.

The decision came after trainee GP Ashbal Chaudhary claimed that he was unaware he was violating lockdown rules, despite unauthorised access to a Manchester hospital’s ICU ward.

The incident took place on April 25, 2020, a month into the Covid-19 lockdown.

Chaudhary’s male relative was transferred to Wythenshawe Hospital from Stepping Hill Hospital for emergency surgery to amputate a gangrenous foot.

The GP, working at North Manchester General Hospital, called Wythenshawe Hospital for information about his relative but later showed up in person.

Chaudhary’s decision to visit the ICU without prior authorisation raised serious concerns. Dressed in medical scrubs and a stethoscope, he was mistaken for a member of the ICU team and allowed entry by hospital staff.

During his visit, Chaudhary accessed blood test results, interacted with the patient at his bedside, and coordinated with surgeons regarding upcoming treatments.

It was only after hospital staff realised he was not part of their team that Chaudhary was reported to the police and the General Medical Council. He later explained that his ‘head space was muddled’ at the time.

At the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), Chaudhary was found guilty of serious professional misconduct.

However, he was deemed fit for medical practice after asserting that he believed he would be allowed to visit his relative, thinking the relative’s condition was life-threatening.

The MPTS chair, Julia Oakford, said, “On the balance of probabilities, Dr. Chaudhary was focused on the immediate care plan for Patient A, and questions about visiting rights would likely have been subordinate in his mind at that time.”

She further noted that Chaudhary did not intend to deceive hospital staff and was merely following his normal practice of wearing scrubs when traveling.

Oakford emphasised that “ordinary decent people would not consider this to be dishonest.”

The decision to allow Chaudhary to continue his medical career has generated significant debate, as it raises questions about accountability and adherence to Covid-19 restrictions during a critical time for public health, reports said.

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