A doctor dishonestly concealed Pauline Cafferkey’s raised temperature before she tested positive for Ebola, a tribunal was told.
Hannah Ryan, who volunteered in Sierra Leone in her first year after graduating from medical school, was one of the medics who assessed Cafferkey following the Scottish nurse’s return to the UK in 2014.
Ryan is accused of recording a temperature 1C lower than it was during a “chaotic” screening process at Heathrow airport on 28 December 2014, a medical practitioners tribunal heard on Monday.
A raised temperature can be the first sign of Ebola, which can kill within five days. Cafferkey, who twice nearly died from the virus, went on to develop one of the worst cases on record for people treated in the west.
The tribunal in Manchester heard Ryan recorded Cafferkey’s temperature as 37.2C despite knowing it was at least 38.2C – above the average body temperature of 37C and higher than the 37.5C threshold requiring further assessment by a consultant in infectious diseases.
She later told another doctor there were no abnormalities in the temperatures of Cafferkey’s group of returnees, according to a written summary of the allegations by the General Medical Council.
Dr Bernard Herdan, the tribunal chair, was told Ryan’s conduct was “misleading and dishonest” and that her “fitness to practise is impaired because of your misconduct”.
Ryan’s involvement emerged during a misconduct hearing for another volunteer medic, Donna Wood, who was suspended for two months in November after being found to have concealed Cafferkey’s raised temperature.
In evidence to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), Ryan said she was in “shock” after taking Cafferkey’s temperature in her left and right ears and finding it raised.
She told the NMC hearing in a written witness statement: “I asked Pauline if she was feeling OK. She said she was feeling fine.
“I stood there in shock. It was like I was paralysed. I had no clear thought process. Ebola is such a horrible disease that every time you have a high temperature you worry, even when you know there’s no reason to.”
Ryan said only the three medics were present and that Wood “broke the inertia by saying something like, ‘I’m just going to write it down as 37.2 degrees’” so they could “get out of here and sort it out”.
Cafferkey was subsequently allowed to leave the screening area and enter the arrivals section because her form did not say her temperature was above 38C.
Ryan, who works at Royal Liverpool hospital, told the NMC hearing that by the time she reached the arrivals hall she knew they could not leave the airport and informed another volunteer, Sharon Irvine, who was a registrar in infectious diseases, of the elevated temperature.
On Irvine’s advice, Cafferkey was taken back to the screening area, where her temperature was taken three more times. Only one of those readings was above 37.5C and she was allowed to fly home.
That night Cafferkey fell seriously ill and it later emerged she had one of the highest Ebola virus loads on record.
The tribunal is expected to last 10 days.
This article was sourced from http://unionjnews.com