Doctor failed to stop psychotic woman leaving Hartlepool hospital just hours before she killed toddler son, tribunal hears

HAPPIER TIMES: Melanie Ruddell with son Christy (picture courtesy of ITV)

HAPPIER TIMES: Melanie Ruddell with son Christy (picture courtesy of ITV)

AN A&E doctor failed to stop a psychotic woman leaving hospital just hours before she killed her two-year-old son, a tribunal heard.

Dr Clement Agbatar should have ensured Melanie Ruddell was seen by the crisis team at the University Hospital of Hartlepool and sectioned, it is claimed.

Ms Ruddell discharged herself and later that night strangled and stabbed her son Christy at her brother’s home in West Rainton in Tyne and Wear.

She then drove to Peterlee Police Station and walked in carrying the toddler’s lifeless body.

Ruddell, formerly of Castle Eden, near Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility in February 2011 and detained under the Mental Health Act.

A 2012 inquest ruled Christy had been unlawfully killed by his mother, but Sunderland Coroner Derek Winter questioned how she was ever allowed to discharge herself from hospital on August 8, 2010.

Dr Agbatar is now facing allegations of misconduct at a fitness to practise hearing at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester, where he is representing himself.

It is alleged that the doctor failed to take into account the information available from police or the ambulance record, failed to properly assess the patient and failed to record a diagnosis.

The GMC say that he should have ensured Ruddell - referred to during the hearing as Patient M - was assessed by the crisis team and sectioned after she presented at A&E suffering from delusions and hallucinations.

Nigel Grundy, opening the case for the GMC, said: ‘It is the GMC’s case that Patient M needed an immediate assessment.

‘The crisis team did have the ability to immediately attend and it was the duty of Dr Agbatar to ensure the crisis team knew Patient M needed an immediate assessment there and then.

‘If she had been told the crisis team were attending immediately the likelihood she would have stayed and, or given the circumstances here, it is the GMC’s case that Patient M in effect ought to have been sectioned because it was clearly indicated given the acute psychosis.’

He added: ‘Tragic events then followed.’

The panel heard that an expert report commissioned by the GMC concluded that Dr Agbatar’s conduct ‘fell seriously below that expected of a reasonably competent associate specialist in accident and emergency medicine’.

Dr Agbatar denies all of the charges against him and in a statement made during the Trust investigation, said: ‘She had full capacity and I could not detain her against her wishes.’

He is also facing allegations relating to another woman, known only as Patient A, who he treated at the Hartlepool hospital in September 2010 after she was assaulted by her ex-partner.

It is said that the doctor failed to recognise the abnormality of her low blood sugar and tachycardia, seek a medical opinion or refer her to the physicians - he denies the charges.

If the panel, chaired by Dr Susan O’Connor, find against the doctor he could face being struck off the medical register.

The hearing, which is expected to last until April 4, continues.


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