An emergency doctor stunned colleagues when he slapped a seriously ill patient across the face with the back of his hand “like a parent smacking a naughty child”, a tribunal heard.
Dr Eric Anderson, 40, was overheard repeatedly telling the man “this is a fight you are not going to win” as they struggled following his admission to accident and emergency by ambulance, it was said.
She heard him say, ‘stop it’, ‘don’t fight with me’Chloe Fairley
The diabetic patient, 30, was suffering from a serious complication of his condition and urgently required rehydration but had already discharged himself from hospital without receiving treatment the previous day.
Writing in his notes before the incident that the patient appeared “combative”, Dr Anderson, 40, managed to insert a tube into the man to deliver fluids and he appeared to “settle down”, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service heard.
But the man - named as Patient A - attempted to get up from bed and began to clash with Dr Anderson, who was trying to calm him down.
Two colleagues of Dr Anderson, a consultant in emergency medicine, heard and witnessed the alleged incident in the resuscitation room of the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, and described hearing him talk “aggressively” to the man.
It is alleged that as Patient A, who was suffering from potentially life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis, tried to get up from bed, Dr Anderson said “don’t fight with me”, then pushed him back down with “excessive force”.
He then slapped Patient A’s cheek with the back of his hand before pulling a curtain closed around them, the tribunal in Manchester heard.
Dr Anderson admits slapping the man during the incident on 17 January 2014, but denies it was deliberate or with “excessive force” and instead claims it was an accident. He also denies speaking to him in an “aggressive” manner.
Opening the case for the General Medical Council, Chloe Fairley said two medics - Dr Alastair Rankin and Dr Felicity Boyce - were in the same room as Dr Anderson at the time of the slap.
Both were so concerned they referred the matter to their superiors at the hospital and an investigation was launched.
Summarising Dr Boyce’s statement, Mrs Fairley said: “Her attention had been drawn to Dr Anderson and the patient by what she considered to be the aggressive manner in which he was talking to the patient. She heard him say, “stop it”, “don’t fight with me” and, repeatedly said: “This is a fight you are not going to win”.
“She described the combination of the tone of voice he used and the words used that caused her concern.
“When Patient A tried to propel himself up he pushed him back down with what Dr Boyce felt was excessive and inappropriate force.”
Minutes later, Dr Boyce heard a “slapping” sound and looked towards Dr Rankin who confirmed Dr Anderson had just slapped the patient, it is alleged.
Mrs Fairley added: “Dr Boyce describes a clear slapping sound and describes the noise as loud, like a smack you would have got as a child if you had been naughty.”
Dr Rankin claims to have seen the entire incident. Summarising his evidence, Mrs Fairley said: “He saw Dr Anderson engage with Patient A.” The hearing continues.