Doctor 'ordered lethal injection' - claim

A FAMILY doctor called for a terminally ill patient to be given a lethal injection as she lay in bed begging for the right to die, a medical tribunal has heard.

A FAMILY doctor called for a terminally ill patient to be given a lethal injection as she lay in bed begging for the right to die, a medical tribunal has heard.

GP Dr Rajiv Chhabra, 39, asked permission from the 85-year old woman's son before telling a nurse to administer her with a high dose of insulin, it was claimed.

But as the son looked on, the nurse Sister Teresa Walls refused to inject the woman saying it was “unethical” and left the patient's bedside.

As Sister Walls left the room with the syringe the doctor said: “I could administer it myself.”

The pensioner, known only as Patient A, died two days later and Chhabra was reported to his bosses at NHS Suffolk.

Yesterday, the medic faced a misconduct hearing in Manchester accused of “inappropriate and irresponsible” behaviour towards the patient.

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The General Medical Council was told the patient had terminal ovarian cancer and suffered from insulin dependent diabetes.

She had been admitted to Bluebird Lodge - a transitional care home near Ipswich.

The old woman tried to go home to die but was brought back to the care home by her son due to the level of care she needed.

Elizabeth Dudley-Jones, counsel for the GMC, said the incident happened in June 2007 whilst Chhabra was working as a GP employed at the home by the Take Care Now scheme under the Primary Care Trust.

“The doctor had almost daily contact with Patient A,” said Mrs Dudley-Jones.

“'She often said she wanted to die, that she didn't want to be kept alive with medication and that she wanted to go home and die peacefully in familiar surroundings.

'”She was competent in her mind and composition. Insulin is used to control blood sugar level, a large dose of which would dramatically raise the levels - this would not cause any relief but would kill a patient.”

During a clinical consultation on June 18, 2007, after her return to the care home, Chhabra recorded that she was “anxious, edgy and uncomfortable” and he contacted Macmillan cancer nurses.

A nurse from the organisation said patient A was “very drowsy and her condition had deteriorated very quickly”. Recommendations for patient A's medication were changed and after new treatment she was said to be “very relaxed”.

But by June 22 she was in more pain and the medication was adjusted again. Two days later she complained of abdominal pain and seemed confused and in discomfort.

On June 25 her blood level was monitored but found to be unrecordable on the machine. “Patient A stated 'all I want to do is die',” said Mrs Dudley-Jones.

“There was a discussion between Dr Chhabra and Sister Walls where a big dosage of insulin was suggested by Dr Chhabra.

Patient A's son came in Dr Chhabra told him his mother wanted to die, he asked him what he wanted. He said he wanted what his mother wanted.

“Dr Chhabra then asked for Miss Walls to administer the dosage, but she refused and said it was unethical.”

She died on June 27 and the following day Chhabra was reported by his colleagues. Chhabra who is still working at his surgery in Ipswich denies misconduct.

The case continues.