Doctor faces hearing over Ebola nurse
BY JUDITH DUFFY
THE Scots nurse who survived Ebola is expected to give evidence this week at the disciplinary hearing of a doctor who took her temperature hours before she was diagnosed with the disease. Dr Hannah Ryan is the latest health professional to face misconduct allegations after an airport screening process failed to raise the alert over Pauline Cafferkey following her return to the UK from a volunteering stint in Sierra Leone in 2014.
Ryan, who was also a volunteer in Sierra Leone, is facing allegations of “misleading actions” and “dishonest conduct” after taking Cafferkey’s temperature. The allegations also state that she later tried to conceal her involvement in the taking of Cafferkey’s temperature.
Despite Cafferkey having a high temperature she was given the green light to travel from Heathrow to Glasgow. When she fell ill it triggered a major health alert and she had to be taken by military transport to the Royal Free Hospital in London. Cafferkey faced misconduct charges by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) but was cleared of all charges in September last year.
In November, senior nurse Donna Wood, another volunteer in Sierra Leone, was suspended for two months by the NMC after a disciplinary panel found she had concealed the true temperature of Cafferkey.
Ryan was a witness at that hearing, which heard how she had taken Cafferkey’s temperature and found it was was 38.2C – higher than the threshold of 37.5C that requires a consultant in infectious diseases to carry out an assessment.
In a written statement, Ryan said: “I asked Pauline if she was feeling OK? She said she was feeling fine. I stood there in shock. It was like I was paralysed. I had no clear thought process.”
She also told the hearing Wood had said something like: “I’m just going to write it down as 37.2 degrees” so they could “get out of here and sort it out”.
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service said: “The tribunal will enquire into the allegation that, on 28 December 2014, whilst in the Public Health England screening area at Heathrow Airport, and after tak- ing Ms A’s temperature, Dr Ryan’s actions were misleading and her conduct was dishonest. It is also alleged that, in a telephone call with Dr C on 2 January 2015, Dr Ryan’s conduct was misleading and also dishonest in that she intended to conceal her involvement in, the taking and recording of Ms A’s temperature.”
Cafferkey spent almost a month in isolation in hospital after being struck down with Ebola in December 2014.
After she was cleared of misconduct, Cafferkey criticised Public Health England, which was in charge of the “chaotic” airport screening process.
She said: “I went out there to help save lives but I came back to a system that failed. I was made a scapegoat for a catalogue of errors.”