Former St Richard’s Hospital doctor struck off

Prashen Pillay, who has been struck off from the General Medical Council. Picture by Eddie Mitchell
Prashen Pillay, who has been struck off from the General Medical Council. Picture by Eddie Mitchell
  • Prashen Pillay prescribed an overdose to two patients at St Richard’s Hospital in 2010
  • He was suspended by Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • A fitness to practise panel found 27 claims against him ‘proved’
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A DOCTOR’S ‘carelessness and lack of awareness’ when prescribing drugs have contributed to his being struck off the medical register.

Prashen Pillay previously admitted prescribing an overdose of digoxin to 77-year-old Joan Dixon, at St Richard’s Hospital, in Chichester, in 2010. He wrote 250 milligrams instead of 250 micrograms – an overdose of 1,000 times.

Dr Pillay’s carelessness and lack of awareness when writing and prescribing put Patients A and B at unwarranted risk

Margaret Codd, Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service

Although the error was corrected, Mrs Dixon, from Findon, was still prescribed an overdose of ten times the required amount, leading to her death from a heart attack.

St Richard’s issued an apology in 2012 for a ‘terrible, one-off accident’, following her inquest.

Pillay qualified from medical school in 2009 and in August, 2010, began working as a foundation year-one-level trainee at St Richard’s Hospital.

According to evidence given by the General Medical Centre at the tribunal: “A foundation year-one doctor should have been aware of the approximate dose range with which digoxin is usually administered and should not have prescribed this dose in milligrams... This error therefore fell seriously below the standard normally expected of a foundation year-one doctor.”

Mrs Dixon’s inquest found she suffered a heart attack as a result of digoxin toxicity. Her daughter Carolyn reacted to the news with shock this week, saying: “He seemed like a concerned young man who was probably a bit out of his depth.”

However, the panel determined Pillay’s actions in prescribing a dose of 250 milligrams of digoxin to Mrs Dixon, referred to as Patient A, amounted to ‘serious misconduct’.

The tribunal found, as well as prescribing the overdose to Mrs Dixon, he also prescribed an overdose of novo-rapid insulin – 40 units instead of four – to another elderly patient, known as Patient B.

However, in this case the patient survived, despite suffering ‘a mild episode’.

“Dr Pillay’s carelessness and lack of awareness when writing and prescribing put Patients A and B at unwarranted risk, as his errors played a part in each patient being administered an overdose of potentially harmful drugs,” said chairman of the panel Margaret Codd, in the written report.

Following Mrs Dixon’s death, Pillay was excluded from Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust and the General Medical Council placed him under an interim suspension order in 2012.

The fitness to practice panel found 27 claims against him ‘proved’.

After he left the trust, Pillay was arrested several times, including for urinating on the floor of Morrisons in Sutton, and being drunk and disorderly at a Premier Inn, in Stockton.

He was also found to have lied to staff at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, and emergency services in Shepherd’s Bush.

Pillay was not at the tribunal and has 28 days to appeal.