Pathologist's fitness to practice impaired

A General Medical Council disciplinary panel in the UK today ruled Dr Freddy Patel, the pathologist who carried out the first autopsy on Ian Tomlinson who died at last year’s G20 protest, acted in a way that amounted to misconduct during two earlier post-mortem examinations and his fitness to practise is impaired.

A General Medical Council disciplinary panel in the UK today ruled Dr Freddy Patel, the pathologist who carried out the first autopsy on Ian Tomlinson who died at last year’s G20 protest, acted in a way that amounted to misconduct during two earlier post-mortem examinations and his fitness to practise is impaired.

The panel also ruled that Dr Patel had displayed deficient professional performance in a third post-mortem.

The panel had already concluded that Dr Patel was “irresponsible” and failed to meet professional standards during his examinations of the bodies of a five-year-old girl in 2002, a four-week-old baby in 2003 and a woman who died in 2005.

Panel chairman Richard Davies told Dr Patel: “The panel is not satisfied that there is no risk of the relevant conduct being repeated.”

Dr Patel, 63, was said by the panel to have behaved irresponsibly, failed to meet standards expected of a Home Office pathologist and acted in a way liable to bring the profession into disrepute when he changed the woman's cause of death in 2005.

He carried out a post-mortem examination on January 5, and decided she had died due to a blood clot in the coronary arteries.

A month later, following a second post-mortem by another pathologist, he prepared an addendum to his report, changing the cause of death to a brain haemorrhage in line with the new findings.

Dr Patel told an inquest into the woman’s death he had changed the primary cause of death “to satisfy the family” but Mr Davies said the pathologist’s assumption that the change made no difference from the coroner’s viewpoint, as the death was not suspicious, and merely allowed an inquest to proceed was not an adequate explanation.

During today’s ruling Mr Davies said Dr Patel’s “acts and omissions were very serious” and amounted to misconduct.

He said pathologists “must not set aside their professional judgment for any of the parties involved during or after a post-mortem examination for reasons of expediency or anything else”.

Dr Patel, whose full name is Mohmed Saeed Sulema Patel, has already been suspended from the Home Office register of forensic pathologists amid questions about his post-mortem examination of Mr Tomlinson.

The 47-year-old newspaper seller died during London’s G20 riots in April last year after being pushed to the ground by a police officer.

Dr Patel’s competency was called into question after two other pathologists agreed that Mr Tomlinson, who was an alcoholic, died as a result of internal bleeding, probably from his diseased liver, after falling on his elbow.

The shortcomings in Dr Patel’s examination of Mr Tomlinson’s body were revealed by prosecutors as they announced that no charges would be brought over the death.

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