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Posted on 11th August 2017

Princess Diana Doctor Under Negligence Investigation by GMC

Dr Wheeler was the doctor to Princess Diana and the trusted private GP for a London family for over 30 years but it is alleged that he failed to monitor the effects of a prescribed medication methotrexate over a considerable period of time.

A 66 year old man was prescribed methotrexate for his medical condition psoriasis and took it “once every week without fail” so his family say. The medication was prescribed by a previous doctor in 1999 and Dr Wheeler took over his care in 2003.

Whilst on holiday in Greece in May 2015, Dr Wheeler’s patient fell ill and his family had to have him flown back to England by air ambulance in July 2015. He spent his last 8 months in hospital.

At an inquest into his death, it was found that the man had died due to liver failure most probably caused by the toxicity from his psoriasis medication. The patient's death was completely avoidable.

In a compensation claim for medical negligence, Dr Wheeler admitted he breached his duty of care because he failed to correctly monitor the patient by arranging blood tests, a practice recommended by a reference book for all doctors in relation to the methotrexate.

Dr Wheeler however also commented that his patient was diabetic and obese therefore he would have still died from liver failure within two years. He also said in his defence that when he had taken over the care of the patient, he was established on a stable dosage which was controlling his condition without any side effects.

The family of the man recounted that he suffered from continuing health problems such as colds and poor sleep. The illnesses the man suffered with seemed like they were building up over time.

The man’s wife commented “That was the nature of being poisoned –drip by drip by drip over this very long period. It’s heart-breaking enough to lose your partner of 45 years – but a complete shock and horror when we found it had been totally avoidable.”

She also stated that “He was a very intelligent person and had been a great reader. But at the time of his death it was clear his brain function had slowed considerably”

His son added “The duty of a doctor is to protect patients from harm. That’s not what we got. It begs the question of whether the regulators are doing their job. This was not just a one-off – it happened over a considerable period of time. The last period of his life was horrifying. We’d like to prevent this happening to other people”

Although Dr Wheeler is under investigation by the GMC (General Medical Council) he continues to practice medicine without any conditions.

NEGLIGENCE CLAIMLINE SAYS:

In this case, we see that failings of a GP led to the death of one of his patients. Commonly we think that clinical negligence is only in relation to delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of medical conditions though this case highlights other aspects. These include the management of medication and also informed consent.

The medication Methotrexate has conditions to its use and one of those stipulations relates to routine blood tests being carried out. The prescribing doctor should advise the patient of this requirement so that any objections to the course of treatment can be discussed.

If the prescribing doctor failed to inform the patient that routine blood tests would be needed or that medication would probably cause serious side effects, it could be argued that the patient lacked the information required to make informed consent.

Where a medical expert fails to monitor the prescribed medication and that medication causes serious harm, the medical expert could be subjected to a claim for compensation due to medical negligence. Identifying Breach of Duty would be relatively simple as would causation.

If you think that you have attended your GP and the care you were given was substandard and caused you further injury, contact us on 0330 355 9210 or claims@negligenceclaimline.co.uk for a free claim assessment.