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Doctor suspended for two months.

A DOCTOR who failed to properly examine a mentally ill patient who later collapsed in a police cell and died has been suspended for two months.

Dr Mohamed Sheik was a forensic medical examiner for MEDACS when North Yorkshire Police asked him to assess Toni Speck in custody at Fulford Road Police Station, York, on June 2, 2011.

During a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing in Manchester the York doctor admitted he had not taken steps to establish a doctor-patient relationship, did not alert staff about the necessity for observations and did not carry out “baseline observations” when he was called into the station more than six years ago.

The hearing was told that when Dr Sheik arrived he did not go into the cell to examine Ms Speck, but looked through her cell hatch instead.

Around 90 minutes later Ms Speck collapsed and was taken to York Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

An inquest York found Ms Speck was suffering from serotonin syndrome, a rare brain condition, which led to her having a cardiac arrest.

Dr Sheik told the inquest he had observed Ms Speck from outside the cell for between five and 10 minutes but CCTV footage showed he had opened the cell hatch for only around seven seconds.

The jury returned a narrative verdict and referred to this discrepancy. Dr Sheik subsequently referred himself to the General Medical Council.

The inquest jury concluded that Ms Speck was suffering from a rare and hard-to- diagnose medical condition which caused her death. The jury also decided that neither the detaining officers nor the custody officer should have recognised that Ms Speck needed to be taken to Accident & Emergency for emergency medical treatment.

The tribunal cleared Dr Sheik of being dishonest and misleading during the inquest and said he had not lied about how long he had observed Ms Speck when he gave evidence, but that he had been under stress in the hearing and had guessed at how long he had spent observing her.

The tribunal told him: “You displayed an isolated error of judgment in an otherwise unblemished career and have continued to practise without cause for concern.”

However, it said that because the misconduct was “so serious and breached a fundamental tenet of the profession” a suspension was appropriate.