Doctor 'killed patient with injection'

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A hospital registrar killed a patient suffering from septic shock by injecting her with adrenaline against the advice of three colleagues, a court heard today.

Birmingham Crown Court was told that Dr Priya Ramnath also failed to speak to a consultant anaesthetist at Staffordshire District General Hospital before injecting the drug into Patricia Leighton in 1998.

Ramnath, who returned from the United States to the UK to face trial last year, denies the manslaughter of Mrs Leighton by gross negligence.

Opening the case against the 40-year-old doctor, prosecutor Michael Burrows, QC, said Mrs Leighton was being treated in an intensive therapy unit when she died in the early hours of July 22, 1998.

Mr Burrows told the jury: "Against the express instructions and advice from her colleagues there, and without reference to the consultant in charge of Mrs Leighton, Dr Ramnath injected Mrs Leighton with a dose of adrenaline.

"The effects of adrenaline are unpredictable and can be fatal. In the case of Mrs Leighton, they were fatal.

"Within moments of the injection, Mrs Leighton jerked forward and sat bolt upright in her bed.

"She shouted out 'What's happening to me? I am going to die'."

The court heard that Mrs Leighton, 51, from Burntwood, near Cannock, Staffordshire, then lost consciousness and her heart stopped.

Mr Burrows added: "Despite the efforts of the other doctors and nurses there, and Dr Ramnath herself, she could not be resuscitated and she died.



"The prosecution say... that the injection was not just negligent, but gross negligence, and that the defendant is therefore criminally responsible for the death."

Jurors were told that Mrs Leighton suffered from arthritis and had been admitted to hospital in Cannock on July 20 after a wound on a bunion on her left foot became infected.

She then suffered side effects from antibiotics and was transferred to Stafford, where she was admitted to intensive care with septic shock.

Mr Burrows alleged that two other doctors told Ramnath, who was on a seven-week placement at the hospital, not to give the patient adrenaline.

It is alleged that a sister had also asked Dr Ramnath not to give the injection, but she "just went ahead" and administered it against "all advice and direction".

Mr Burrows told the eight men and four women trying the case: "You will have to consider whether Dr Ramnath sought to conceal what she had done and whether others sought to help her.

"You will have to consider whether she fled the country in order to hinder or escape the investigation into Mrs Leighton's death.

"I understand that it's her case that she and her husband had planned for some months to move to the United States, where they in fact did go."

Ramnath, whose address cannot be published for legal reasons, came back to Britain in February last year after dropping her opposition to extradition proceedings.

"She says she thought Patricia Leighton's heart rate and blood pressure needed to be raised urgently," Mr Burrows told the court.

"She says she believed Mrs Leighton was about to go into cardiac arrest and thought it was necessary therefore to inject adrenaline."

But, the prosecutor said, the Crown would call an expert witness who believed that Ramnath's alleged decision to ignore advice was arrogant and reckless.

The trial, which is expected to last for up to four weeks, was adjourned until tomorrow.