Doctor investigated after disabled teenage patient prescribed medication against their wishes and died

NHS review concluded Oliver’s death was avoidable but this was then subject of an alleged cover-up

Shaun Lintern
Health Correspondent
Wednesday 16 June 2021 13:03
<p>Oliver McGowan died in November 2016 after being given anti-psychotic medication against his own and his parents’ wishes by staff at Bristol’s Southmead Hospital.</p>

Oliver McGowan died in November 2016 after being given anti-psychotic medication against his own and his parents’ wishes by staff at Bristol’s Southmead Hospital.

A doctor who prescribed anti-psychotic medication that contributed to the death of an autistic teenager is being investigated by the General Medical Council.

Dr Monica Mohan prescribed Olanzapine to 18-year-old Oliver McGowan against his own and his parents’ wishes at Southmead Hospital in Bristol in November 2016.

A letter to the family from the medical watchdog the GMC has revealed it has opened an investigation into the consultant.

Oliver, who was fit and healthy but had epilepsy and learning difficulties, died after the drug triggered a reaction called neuroleptic malignant syndrome. It caused his temperature to rise and his brain to swell so badly he suffered catastrophic brain damage and never recovered.

His medical records showed he had an intolerance to anti-psychotic drugs and his family had said they did not want the drugs to be used.

At an inquest into his death heard Dr Mohan admitted she had been warned by Oliver’s parents about his reaction to the drugs but she told the coroner she “would have done it again” and was acting in Oliver’s best interests.

Avon and Somerset Police have launched a criminal inquiry into Oliver McGowan’s death and his parents have campaigned for better training and education of NHS staff in treating patients with learning disabilities.

Oliver’s mother Paula was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her efforts to help drive improvements in care.

In a letter to the family on 11 June, the GMC told them it had “sought advice from a medically qualified” person and added: “A decision has been made that we’re going to look into the concerns you’ve raised about Dr Mohan. This is to see if we need to stop or limit their ability to work as a doctor in the UK in the interest of protecting the public.”

The coroner in Oliver’s inquest ruled that Olanzapine was appropriately prescribed and did not record his death as avoidable but this has been questioned by an expert review that did conclude his death was avoidable.

This review was then the subject of an alleged cover-up by health chiefs which triggered another separate inquiry by NHS England and a wider review of its learning disability mortality programme.

Oliver’s parents declined to comment on the GMC’s investigation.

The General Medical Council would not comment on the investigation specifically but Dr Mohan remains registered to work as a doctor without restrictions.

A GMC investigation can take up to 12 months or more to conclude and could result in Dr Mohan facing a tribunal hearing that could see her struck off the medical register. The GMC can also take no action, issue a warning or agree other steps with the doctor to address any concerns.

Southmead Hospital also declined to comment.

This article was amended on 23 June 2021 to change a reference to Oliver as ‘a teenager with autism’ to ‘an autistic teenager’.

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