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Doctor who made “devastating error” continues to practise

18 December 2008

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A doctor who made a “devastating error of judgment” which resulted in the death of an eight-year-old girl has been told he can continue to practise medicine.

Dr Alastair Graham suspected that Courtney Guy had the deadly brain infection meningitis, but failed to follow national guidelines by giving her penicillin or calling 999 for an ambulance when treating her.

Dr Graham, a GP at the Brooklyn Medical Practice in Derbyshire, told the General Medical Council (GMC) he had not administered penicillin as he “wasn’t convinced” it was a meningococcal infection and did not want to cause the patient pain.

He told the hearing in Manchester in hindsight he would have “given a shot of penicillin and organised a 999 ambulance”.

Instead, the watchdog heard he called an urgent ambulance, rather than an emergency ambulance, which takes around an hour to arrive.

Courtney, from Heanor, Derbyshire, was taken to Nottingham City Hospital where she was diagnosed with meningitis and transferred to Queen’s Medical Centre in the city. She died the next day.

The doctor said his decision was “possibly the worst one I’ve ever made in my professional career”.

But the GMC decided that despite his admitted failings, his performance was not impaired and he could carry on his GP role.

Copyright © Press Association 2008

General Medical Council