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UK high court upholds ban on doctor responsible for death of patient in Mumbai

The United Kingdom’s high court has upheld an order banning an Indian-origin doctor, who had been found responsible for the death of a cancer patient at Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH), from practicing there.

mumbai Updated: Mar 14, 2019 11:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Mumbai
UK high court,Death,Patient
The Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal found that Sastry had knowingly given high dose chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplantation to the patient whose test results suggested she would not survive.(File Photo)

The United Kingdom’s high court has upheld an order banning an Indian-origin doctor, who had been found responsible for the death of a cancer patient at Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH), from practicing there.

In August 2018, a UK medical tribunal had found Dr Pantula Sastry, an oncologist, responsible for the death of a 55-year-old woman who suffered from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. According to the tribunal, Dr Sastry had performed a stem cell transplantation on the patient Sushma Agarwal, knowing that her condition was not suitable for the procedure. Agarwal died 21 days after the procedure.

After the tribunal banned him from practicing in the UK, Dr Sastry appealed against the decision with the high court but it was dismissed. “I am satisfied that there has been no error of approach by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service,” said the UK high court.

The deceased patient’s son Avtansh Agarwal had alleged medical negligence and reported his mother’s case to the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK soon after he learned that Dr Sastry had relocated and started practicing there.

According to a news article in British Medical Journal, published after the tribunal’s order, the Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal found that Sastry had knowingly given high dose chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplantation to the patient whose test results suggested she would not survive. Sastry moved to the United Kingdom and the patient’s son reported the case to the UK General Medical Council, which, under the Medical Act 1983, can consider overseas events to determine a doctor’s ‘fitness to practice’.

The British Medical Journal article quoted tribunal chairman Matthew Fiander stating that “the public would find it unacceptable and disgraceful that a doctor proceeded with high dose chemotherapy” knowing that the patient would not be able to recover from it.

The tribunal investigated the case and found that Dr Sastry was incompetent as the procedure was “outside his area of expertise”.

Dr Ram Narain, chief executive officer, KDAH said the matter in India has been put before various legal forums and therefore would not like to comment on it.

Avtansh said the high court’s decision has finally given him a sense of closure. “There’s a sense of relief that the GMC and UK authorities have diligently pursued the case of gross medical negligence and delivered the highest level of sanction as per the local laws.”

He, however, added that there was no movement on the case registered in India with the Maharashtra Medical Council. “It will be a travesty of any semblance of justice in case Sastry returns to India and resumes practice and, thereby, endangers cancer patients with his arrogance, recklessness, and incompetence,” Avtansh added.

First Published: Mar 14, 2019 11:38 IST