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Doctor denies manslaughter of patient with drug allergy

18 November 2008

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An elderly patient died because a locum doctor at the St Budeaux Health Centre in Plymouth ignored the fact that he was allergic to penicillin, a court has heard.

Dr Mitra Nikkhah, 41, who now lives and works in Dubai, denies manslaughter through gross negligence after David Townsend, 73, of Plymouth, went into anaphylactic shock and died.

Plymouth Crown Court heard that Mr Townsend and his wife Joan both told Dr Nikkhah that he was allergic, but she could find no information on the surgery’s computer about his condition and so prescribed the medication anyway.

Dr Nikkhah told police she did not remember any conversation about penicillin other than when she asked if Mr Townsend suffered any allergies and the couple looked “confused”.

Phillip Mott QC, prosecuting, told the court the case hinges on the conversation in the surgery. He said Mrs Townsend is very clear that the couple told Dr Nikkhah about the allergy as he has never been able to take penicillin.

The court heard that Dr Nikkhah was trained in Romania in 1995 before coming to the UK in 2001, and in 2004 qualified as a locum GP.

Copyright © Press Association 2008

Penicillin allergy