Doctor 'mismanaged' leukaemia treatment

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The Independent Online
A LEUKAEMIA patient died after a massive overdose of radiation during treatment, the General Medical Council was told yesterday.

Dr John O'Shea, a consultant haematologist at Arrowe Park Hospital, Merseyside, 'systematically mismanaged' the treatment of Lee Rainford, 23, from the very beginning, Rosalind Foster, counsel to the GMC's professional conduct committee, alleged.

Miss Foster said Dr O'Shea, of Neston, South Wirral, made the basic error of handling the specified method for treating Mr Rainford as 'as a simple cooking recipe'. He was left 'looking like a victim of chemical warfare' after his lengthy drug overdoses, she said. 'His skin was coming off in strips and was blistering and yet nothing was done to find out out why . . .'

Dr O'Shea denies serious professional misconduct.

Mr Rainford, of Wallasey, was in remission from leukaemia but treatment continued as normal, Miss Foster said. After he died on 11 September 1990, it was discovered he was given a fourfold overdose of the drug vindesine between 30 August and 6 September. The drug chart stipulated that he should be given 3mg of the drug on days one and eight of the chemotherapy, but he was given a daily dose of 6mg for eight consecutive days.

It was the GMC's case that Dr O'Shea referred Mr Rainford for cranial irradiation knowing he had already undergone such treatment, and permitted excessive delays between each phase of therapy, Miss Foster said. He omitted to get a full copy of the method of treatment or familiarise himself with its details, failed to ensure that his clinical team had all the relevant information about the use of toxic drugs, and consequently took insufficient steps to ensure they were administered competently and safely.

The hearing continues.