An elderly hospital doctor has been jailed for three years after he killed a patient during a ‘routine’ procedure, as a judge slammed ‘failings in the system’. Shahida Parveen died aged 48 at the Royal Oldham hospital after Dr Isyaka Mamman carried out a bone marrow biopsy.
After failing to gain a sample in the conventional way via the hip bone, the doctor used a ‘rare’ and ‘dangerous’ procedure to carry out the procedure via the sternum, which Mrs Parveen had not consented to. Dr Mamman continued even as she ‘screamed’ in pain and her husband of 31 years ‘begged’ him to stop.
The conduct of Dr Mamman, now 85, had been called into question twice before following two serious incidents three years earlier. He had left a 64-year-old man permanently disabled, and a woman was left in considerable pain after Dr Mamman had carried out the same procedure on both patients.
Mrs Justice Yip said Mrs Parveen, a mum-of-three, had been ‘badly let down’, and that it was ‘hard to understand’ why the doctor had not retired following the two previous incidents. “It is difficult to see why the Trust did not do more, and why you were allowed to continue to work without any measures being taken to address your competence or to support you,” the judge told Dr Mamman.
“Sadly, there were failings in the system as identified by the investigations after Mrs Parveen’s death. Remedial action has since been taken.” Police said Mrs Parveen’s family were too devastated to attend court.
Her brother told officers that while he understood people make mistakes, ‘this should never have been allowed to happen’. She died in September 2018 before the birth of her first grandchild.
Manchester Crown Court heard that she had been referred to confirm a diagnosis of a potential myeloproliferative disorder, which causes blood cells to grow abnormally. The judge said Dr Mamman’s execution of the biopsy was ‘grossly incompetent’.
He missed the sternum ‘completely’ and caused a fatal wound by puncturing the pericardium which encloses the heart. Mrs Parveen lost consciousness as the needle was inserted and her husband, who was by his wife’s side, came running out of the room shouting: “He killed her! I told him to stop three times and he did not listen. He killed her.”
“It is hard to imagine the trauma experienced by Mrs Parveen’s husband, who witnessed the events leading to her death,” the judge added. “He immediately recognised the horror that was unfolding and saw the pain caused to his wife.”
The judge said there was a ‘troubling’ background to the case. Dr Mamman, who does not have a birth certificate as there was no system of registration in Nigeria when he was born, had given incorrect date of births during his career. He was suspended for 12 months after he had lied about his age.
Before employing Dr Mamman in 2004, Pennine Acute, as the Trust was then named, knew that he had been ‘competence issues’ in his previous job in Kent, where he had been sacked for ‘poor performance’.
One patient had been told that colleagues within Pennine, now named the Northern Care Alliance, thought the doctor should retire and that he would only been carrying out ‘light duties’. It appears no steps were taken to implement that,” the judge said.
She said the doctor should have retired following the two serious incidents in 2015. “You had caused significant distress to one patient and serious harm to another while performing bone marrow biopsies,” Mrs Justice Yip told him.
“As the GMC Guidance on Good Medical Practice makes clear, all doctors are personally responsible for their professional practice and must recognise and work within the limits of their competence. Although I acknowledge that you were undergoing yearly accreditation assessments, greater insight would surely have led to you ceasing practice given your true age and these two serious incidents.”
The judge continued: “I agree that the Trust ought to have taken steps to safeguard patients and should not have allowed you to continue carrying out potentially dangerous procedures without supervision after 2015. Mrs Parveen was badly let down.”
She said there was evidence that revealed doctors felt ‘under pressure’ to obtain samples, and that the Trust ‘certainly could have done more to protect its patients’. Despite his age and the doctor now appearing ‘somewhat frail’, the judge said it was ‘inevitable’ that he should be jailed due to the seriousness of the crime.
She added: “It is very sad to see a long career in medicine end in such dreadful circumstances.” Dr Mamman, of Cumberland Drive, Royton, will serve half of his sentence in prison. He pleaded guilty to gross negligence manslaughter.
After the hearing, Detective Inspector Rachel Smith, of GMP’s Major Incident Team, said: “It is tragic that someone who attended the hospital for a diagnostic procedure to plan their treatment and, ultimately, make them feel better ended up dying at the hands of a doctor. Our thoughts remain with the victim’s family and loved ones.
“The vast majority of doctors are highly qualified professionals with the skills required to provide excellent care to their patients. Mamman, on the other hand, completely disregarded the basic and in-depth knowledge expected of a medic.
“I would like to use this opportunity to publicly thank our partners in the NHS for their cooperation and assistance whilst our investigation was ongoing. This prosecution, on which we worked closely with the CPS, will ensure that, going forwards, no patients are put at risk of harm by Mamman.”
Dr Chris Brookes, group chief doctor and deputy chief executive for the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, which runs The Royal Oldham Hospital, said: “We wish again to offer our sincerest condolences to Mrs Parveen’s family and friends and we are deeply sorry for their loss. We would like to reiterate our sincere apology previously provided to Mrs Parveen’s family. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to them.
“Following Mrs Parveen’s death in September 2018, the Trust launched a thorough internal investigation to examine the circumstances leading up to and following this tragic incident. The Trust implemented improvements following investigation which were shared with Mrs Parveen’s family.
“The Trust has admitted liability in relation to a civil claim brought by the family.
“The Trust has liaised closely with Greater Manchester Police throughout their investigation and the subsequent legal proceedings concerning Dr Mamman.”