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Police question Indian doc for manslaughter

Police is investigating the Indian doctor, after an ambulance staff complained that she had not attempted to resuscitate a pensioner.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2006 18:49 IST

Police is investigating an Indian doctor for manslaughter, after an ambulance staff complained that the doctor had not attempted to resuscitate a pensioner.

Dr Shanta Dhar was arrested and questioned by police after a coroner ordered an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Joan Board, 78, in December. Detectives arrested Dr Dhar, 70, on Friday on suspicion of manslaughter, malfeasance and perverting the course of justice. She has been bailed pending further inquiries and has been banned from single-handedly examining any patients.

Mrs Board collapsed at her home in North London on December 2 during a house visit by Dr Dhar, who is a senior partner at the Willow House surgery. The doctor phoned for an ambulance. Despite paramedics carrying out cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) Mrs Board died on the way to the hospital. Heart disease was given as the cause of death at her post-mortem examination.

At Hornsey Coroner's Court in London on Wednesday, Andrew Walker, the coroner, ordered an investigation into her death after complaints from the London Ambulance Service and from Mrs Board's family.

Reportedly, ambulance personnel believe that if CPR were carried out earlier Mrs Board would have had a better chance of survival. A spokesman for Hornsey Coroner's Court confirmed that complaints had also been received from Mrs Board's family.

London Ambulance Service said that it had been called at 2.40pm on December 2 to Mrs Board's home address in Enfield. A spokeswoman said: "The patient was experiencing breathing difficulties. A fast- response vehicle and an ambulance were sent out. They made attempts to resuscitate this patient at the scene and en route to the hospital."

A police spokeswoman said: "A 70-year-old woman was arrested on Friday, January 13, in connection with the inquiry. She was interviewed at a northeast London police station and released on bail.

"She was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, malfeasance in a public office and perverting the course of justice. CID at Enfield is investigating and they will pass a report to the coroner in due course.

"The investigation has arisen from concerns from within the London Ambulance Service and Mrs Board's family about emergency respiratory procedures."

According to the police, Dr Dhar's bail conditions are that she must surrender her passport, she must not single-handedly examine patients in relation to her profession as a doctor and she must abide by the advice of the primary care trust and/or the General Medical Council.

However, CPR was never a compulsory component of a GP's training and it is understood that there is no formal requirement for a GP to be fully trained in resuscitation techniques, although the British Medical Association has said in the past that it would prefer that all doctors keep their training up to date. Dr Dhar, who was registered as a doctor in September 1970 and received her first medical qualification at Vikram University, Madhya Pradesh, India, in 1959. She has not made any comment.

The British Medical Association also said that it could not comment on the case.