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Doctor's formal warning after death of a patient

General Medical Council investigation found GP failed to diagnose deep vein thrombosis

John Garvey

John Garvey


01635 886628

Doctor's formal warning after death of a patient

A WELL-known Newbury GP has received an official warning from the medical regulator following the death of a patient.

Dr Graham Stiff was investigated by the General Medical Council (GMC) after one of his patients died from a pulmonary embolism, secondary to an undiagnosed deep vein thrombosis in her left calf.

The GMC’s findings state: “Dr Stiff had consulted with the patient on several occasions... when her family had repeatedly raised their concern that the patient had a deep vein thrombosis.

“Dr Stiff not only failed to adequately assess her swollen ankle, but he did not refer her for further investigation of deep vein thrombosis, and he conducted an ultrasound scan of her leg, despite the fact that he had failed to maintain a record of any continuing professional development in ultrasonography, since 2002.”

The findings conclude: “This conduct does not meet with the standards required of a doctor.

“It risks bringing the profession into disrepute and it must not be repeated.

“Whilst these failings in themselves are not so serious as to require any restriction on Dr Stiff's registration, it is necessary in response to issue this formal warning.”

The ruling concerns the death of the patient in 2015 and the sanction will now remain on Dr Stiff’s record until March, 2019.

The GMC states: “Our procedures allow us to issue a warning where we consider it appropriate to register concerns regarding a doctor’s behaviour or performance, in order to uphold the standards of, and public confidence in, the medical profession.”

A warning is one of the lower sanctions – the highest being the striking of a GP from the medical register, barring them from practice.

Dr Stiff works from the Strawberry Hill Medical Centre in Newbury and was one of the medical heroes following the Ufton Nervet rail disaster in 2004 in which seven people died.

He is also well-known for his voluntary work with the local British Association for Immediate Care (BASICS) charity, where he is a trustee.

Strawberry Hill Medical Centre said in a statement: "The circumstances surrounding the case were complex but we cannot comment on them further, though they have been extensively discussed within the partnership and outside in order to try to avoid similar issues occurring in the future.

"Having been this patient’s general practitioner for many years, Dr Stiff is sorry for and fully understands the distress that this patient’s death will have caused her family."


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