Lethal dose of acid treatment leads to to medical negligence claim


A medical negligence hearing has heard how in May 2009 a surgeon injected a youngster with a potentially lethal dose of carbolic acid.


A doctor is before the General Medical Council (GMC) facing a medical negligence 'fitness to practice' hearing.

The GMC heard that the surgeon, who practiced at the former Manchester Hospital, had been removing a small haemorrhoid from a 4-year-old boy.

To treat the condition, the doctor requested carbolic acid, or Phenol, a highly-corrosive substance which should only be administered as a 5% solution.

The surgeon failed to check the acid's dilution and used an 80% solution: 4 times more than a potentially-lethal dose and exceeding by 16 times the safe level for this treatment.

The acid burned away parts of the boy's body, leaving him with a hole down to the base of his spine.

Although he survived after emergency treatment, the boy was left severely injured and had to have part of his bowel removed. Fitted with a colostomy bag, he has had surgery more than 30 times since the incident and could not sit comfortably for 1 year.

In failing to administer good clinical care, the doctor is accused of impairment by misconduct. The surgeon has admitted injecting the Phenol, and that a proposal to 'wash out' the acid when the mistake was realised was also not in the patient's best interests.

The hearing was told that the boy's parents did not comprehend the doctor's treatment plan, had not given him informed consent to perform the procedures and that accurate medical records for the boy were not kept.

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