Doc­tor ad­mits Ebola ‘panic’

Tri­bunal: Medic con­cedes con­ceal­ing tem­per­a­ture warn­ing sign for virus

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY PAT HURST

A doc­tor has ad­mit­ted mis­lead­ing other medics af­ter the warn­ing sign of a raised tem­per­a­ture for nurse Pauline Caf­fer­key was con­cealed hours be­fore she fell se­ri­ously ill with the Ebola virus.

Dr Han­nah Ryan took the tem­per­a­ture of the Scot­tish nurse as they waited to go through Ebola virus screen­ing at Heathrow Air­port on De­cem­ber 28, 2014, med­i­cal watch­dogs heard.

They had been work­ing in Sierra Leone with other “selfless” UK medics who had vol­un­teered to help treat vic­tims of the deadly virus which killed thou­sands in west Africa in 2014, a Med­i­cal Prac­ti­tion­ers Tri­bunal was told.

But af­ter fly­ing home Dr Ryan took Ms Caf­fer­key’s tem­per­a­ture which was 38.2 centi­grade – above the 37.5 centi­grade thresh­old which is a warn­ing sign for Ebola.

Dr Ryan was in a state of “dis­be­lief, fear and panic” at the raised read­ing and in­stead of alert­ing Pub­lic Health Eng­land (PHE) medics at Heathrow screen­ing groups re­turn­ing from west Africa, a lower tem­per­a­ture was recorded of 37.2 – and Ms Caf­fer­key was even­tu­ally al­lowed to catch her con­nect­ing flight to Glas­gow to go home.

She fell se­ri­ously ill the next day and tested pos­i­tive for the Ebola virus.

Dr Ryan has ad­mit­ted mis­lead­ing oth­ers and “ac­qui­esced” in the wrong tem­per­a­ture be­ing given, but de­nies mis­con­duct by her ac­tions at the air­port and dur­ing a sub­se­quent in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Pub­lic Health Eng­land.

Fraser Cox­hill, rep­re­sent­ing the Gen­eral Med­i­cal Coun­cil, told the tri­bunal that four days af­ter the in­ci­dent Dr Nick Gent from PHE called Dr Ryan to in­ves­ti­gate what had hap­pened at the air­port, in re­ac­tion to Ms Caf­fer­key fall­ing ill.

Dr Ryan later ad­mit­ted not telling him she had taken Ms Caf­fer­key’s tem­per­a­ture and that it was above the thresh­old for pos­si­ble Ebola in­fec­tion.

Mr Cox­hill said: “It is sub­mit­ted that the events of De­cem­ber 28, 2014 and Jan­uary 2, 2015 ap­pear to demon­strate some­one (Dr Ryan) whose first in­stinct is to mis­lead and be dishonest.”

The tri­bunal was ad­journed un­til to­day.

Ms Caf­fer­key was cleared of mis­con­duct charges last Septem­ber.

NO FAULT: Ms Caf­fer­key was cleared of wrong­do­ing

Dr Han­nah Ryan

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