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NRI Dr. Shanta Dhar arrested on suspicion of manslaughter

NRI, Dr. Shanta Dhar has been arrested by police after ambulance staff accused her not trying to resuscitate a dying patient. Later on she was released on bail pending further inquiries. She also banned from single-handedly examining any patient....

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GP arrested over death of patient, 78

Police began a manslaughter investigation after ambulance staff complained that a doctor had not attempted to resuscitate a pensioner

Britain, Jan. 16, 2006
David Sanderson
The Times

A DOCTOR has been arrested by police on suspicion of manslaughter after ambulance staff accused her of failing to carry out resuscitation on a dying patient.

Dr Shanta Dhar was questioned by police after a coroner ordered an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Joan Board, 78, in December.

Detectives arrested Dr Dhar, 70, on Friday on suspicion of manslaughter, malfeasance and perverting the course of justice. She has been bailed pending further inquiries and has been banned from single-handedly examining any patients.

Mrs Board collapsed at her home in North London on December 2 during a house visit by Dr Dhar, who is a senior partner at the Willow House surgery. The doctor phoned for an ambulance.

Despite paramedics carrying out CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation – Mrs Board died on the way to the hospital. Heart disease was given as the cause of death at her post-mortem examination.

At Hornsey Coroner’s Court in London on Wednesday, Andrew Walker, the coroner, ordered an investigation into her death after complaints from the London Ambulance Service and from Mrs Board’s family.

It is understood that ambulance personnel believe that earlier CPR would have given Mrs Board a better chance of survival. A spokesman for Hornsey Coroner’s Court confirmed that complaints had also been received from Mrs Board’s family.

London Ambulance Service said that it had been called at 2.40pm on December 2 to Mrs Board’s home address in Enfield. A spokeswoman said: “The patient was experiencing breathing difficulties. A fast- response vehicle and an ambulance were sent out. They made attempts to resuscitate this patient at the scene and en route to the hospital.”

A police spokeswoman said: “A 70-year-old woman was arrested on Friday, January 13, in connection with the inquiry. She was interviewed at a northeast London police station and released on bail.

“She was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, malfeasance in a public office and perverting the course of justice. CID at Enfield are investigating and they will pass a report to the coroner in due course.

“The investigation has arisen from concerns from within the London Ambulance Service and Mrs Board’s family about emergency respiratory procedures.”

According to the police, Dr Dhar’s bail conditions are that she must surrender her passport, she must not single-handedly examine patients in relation to her profession as a doctor and she must abide by the advice of the primary care trust and/or the General Medical Council.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation can include repeatedly pushing down firmly on the patient’s chest, using electric shocks to restart the heart, mouth-to-mouth breathing, and inflating the lungs through inserting a tube into the windpipe.

Historically, CPR was not a compulsory component of a GP’s training and it is understood that there is no formal requirement for a GP to be fully trained in resuscitation techniques, although the British Medical Association has said in the past that it would prefer that all doctors keep their training up to date.

Dr Dhar, who was registered as a doctor in September 1970 and received her first medical qualification at Vikram University, Madhya Pradesh, India, in 1959, could not be contacted for comment.

The British Medical Association said that it could not comment on the case.

In June 2005 The Times reported that the BMA believed that hospital dramas on television were giving the public an unrealistic expectation of a doctor’s ability to resuscitate a patient.

At one of its conferences, one of the association’s members, Dr Andrew Thomson, called on the Government to balance the “sugar-coated” media portrayal of CPR. He said that fewer than half of patients whose hearts stopped in hospital survived the initial event and of those only a third went home. He added that when the public tried the kiss of life the survival rate was about 2 per cent.

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