A Sussex doctor and a Harley Street specialist have both been accused of failing to tell a wealthy cancer patient that she was dying.
The General Medical Council (GMC) were told that the pair allegedly carried on treating the American woman. It was said they gave her false hope, when they should have offered her palliative care in order to make her final days more comfortable.
Dr Siegfried Trefzer, of the Hightree Medical Clinic, Eastbourne Road, Uckfield, and Dr Mark Bonar, of Westminster, face misconduct charges relating to the woman’s care.
The General Medical Council heard the woman – known as Patient A – was told by Dr Bonar she would not get NHS treatment because of her nationality – but nurses were able to find her a place within 24 hours in January last year. She died in March 2014.
It was alleged at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service that Dr Bonar carried on treating her so that he could continue to charge her for his services.
Charles Garside, for the General Medical Council said that neither Dr Bonar, 38, nor Dr Trefzer, 58, had caused Patient A’s death as she was already terminally ill. But he went on to say: “The reality of it was that she was badly ill and she wasn’t getting the treatment that she needed.”
She was given total parenteral nutrition (TNP,) a form of intravenous feeding which carries the risk of infection and blood imbalances. Parenteral nutrition, also known as intravenous feeding, is a method of getting nutrition into the body through the veins. While it is most commonly referred to as total parenteral nutrition (TPN), some patients need to get only certain types of nutrients intravenously.
Mr Garside added: “It should have been clear that Patient A was not going to recover and the only realistic option was palliative care designed to make her decline and death as comfortable as possible.
“Unfortunately, neither Dr Bonar nor Dr Trefzer told her of the result of the scans, so she continued to hope for a cure and consented to treatment, which carried real risk, but was not going to be effective.”
The case resumed on Monday in Manchester for legal submissions and the tribunal panel is expected to reconvene on March 14 when the doctors will give evidence.
The panel is made up of chairman Mr Andrew Lewis, Dr Paul Diprose and Mr Ian Spafford.
Dr Trefzer and Dr Bonar deny misconduct allegations including failing to properly monitor the patient’s condition while the TNP was given to her. They are also accused of keeping poor records and notes of the treatments.
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