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Posted 10 August 2017
by Endurance Arthur

Private GP accused of causing ‘avoidable’ death

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Methotrexate has a long history of use in the treatment of various immunologic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. Although the drug is usually prescribed by a specialist, such as a Rheumatologist, a GP may assume responsibility for monitoring Methotrexate therapy. The drug can be prescribed safely for long periods but it has major potential toxic effects, such as hepatic, pulmonary, renal and bone marrow abnormalities which require careful monitoring.

In the article in the BBC news below, a high profile private GP is the subject of a high court action by the family of banker Stefanos Vavalidis for failing to monitor adequately the effects of repeated prescription of Methotrexate and thereby causing his death by liver failure. According to the article, the GP has admitted he was in breach of his duty by failing to properly monitor his patient by arranging the full blood tests, recommended in the standard medicines reference book for all doctors and that if full tests had been carried out, his patient could have lived up to two years longer.

This is a tragic case which illustrates the need for extra care by doctors when administering treatments which work to alleviate debilitating symptoms but potentially can cause damage. According to the article, it is acknowledged that the GP and his practice did not have any system for flagging up the need for regular testing which would have identified the toxic effects of the drug.   It will be interesting to see what the outcome is for this family when their claim is eventually concluded.

If you or any member of your family are affected by the issues highlighted in this article and need any advice regarding this, please speak with our team of medical negligence solicitors.

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About the author

Endurance Arthur

Partner and Solicitor

Partner and solicitor in the medical negligence department and a member of the Law Society's Clinical Negligence Panel