Should Dr Bawa-Garba Have Been Convicted?

February 21, 2018

The good that physicians do is often offset by a single error. The case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, a trainee pediatrician in the United Kingdom's National Health Service, charged with homicide for the death of a child from sepsis is an example of this.

Bawa-Garba was convicted in a British court of manslaughter by gross negligence and given a 2-year suspended sentence for the mistakes she made that led to the death of a 6-year-old boy with Down syndrome. She had recently returned from an extended maternity leave and was solely in charge of three separate units on a day on which no senior consultant was available and a technology failure led to a delay in obtaining test results.

Few will dispute that Bawa-Garba made errors. Among them, she failed to tell the boy's mother to stop giving medications that should have been discontinued and briefly confused the boy with another patient. However, many in the medical community have come to her defense, citing the impossible conditions she faced and the sheer volume of work she was asked to do.

Ultimately, Bawa-Garba was struck from the medical registrar after a series of appeals brought forth by the UK General Medical Council. Those who believe she has been wrongfully prosecuted have orchestrated a social media campaign and begun an online fund raiser on her behalf to pay for an independent legal team to review her case.

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