When the media just cant get it right-A doctor, a mobile phone and a misguided journalist

Much has been written about various events in my rather short but action packed life, and quite often by journalists too busy climbing their own career path to actually concern themselves with the truth. There is one incident however that stands above all else, and which is so glaring in its factual inaccuracy that Sue Clough the journalist from the London Telegraph who wrote the article http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1319482/Mobile-phone-medic-blamed-for-death.html in February 2001, must either have been absent from the courtroom or conveniently experienced a bout of deafness when the Crown Prosecution Service Queens Counsel, William Boyce, admitted to the court that no mobile phone had been used during the dental case.

In March 1999 I administered an intravenous anesthetic to a 57-year-old patient who had attended a dental clinic to have a wisdom tooth extracted. The procedure lasted 17 minutes and as the dentist was removing the bite block, the patient went into cardiac arrest and was successfully resuscitated, then transferred to a local hospital which because beds were not available had to then be transferred to another hospital. Sadly the patient died 6 days later and a subsequent investigation and trial ensued which hinged on a false allegation made by a dental assistant that I had been using a mobile phone during the procedure. To understand why the assistant would have been motivated to fabricate such a falsehood it is necessary to know that she had been disciplined two weeks previously for theft of petty cash and had been placed on probation. Regardless, the evidence presented at trial during the testimony of David Bristowe, the telecoms engineer, unequivocally proved that NO mobile phone was used during the time the procedure occurred, which effectively undermined the theory advanced by the prosecution which was that I had been distracted by the phone, and the patient had been deprived of oxygen, which in their opinion led to her cardiac arrest. The contrary opinion advanced by my experts was that the patient had a pre-existing potassium deficit which caused the ventricular tachycardia and cardiac arrest and this low potassium would not have been detected pre-procedurally as the National Health Service dental clinics as part of their cost saving policy did not routinely perform pre-procedural blood tests.

The occurrence of cardiac arrest during and after anesthesia can occur for a multitude of reasons, which quite often can never be definitively proved in a scientific forum. The prosecution theory that the patient was deprived of oxygen because I was allegedly on a mobile phone was dealt a fatal blow when the telecoms engineer testified that no phone was used which the prosecutor then admitted and agreed to. This critical part of the legal record was falsely communicated by Sue Clough in the Telegraph article and was subsequently picked up and has been re-reported ever since, a critical detail that has misguided the public distorting their understanding of a complex medical case for which the actual cause of the cardiac arrest was never unanimously agreed upon.

What should of great concern to the reader is the recklessness of reporting that this article demonstrates when in the face of fact the journalist still chose, no doubt for the sake of sensationalism, to use a national newspaper to lie about arguably the most important detail of a high profile medical case. The sensationalizing of medical cases has a long history in the media and medicine is a complex art and not science that should not be packaged and sold to sell newspapers. It is important that the reporting be factual and responsible in tone and most definitely not commit blatant lies as occurred in the Telegraph article.

The patient had a cardiac arrest on March 9 1999 and sadly passed away 6 days later. The trial commenced January 21st 2001 and concluded February 21st 2001 with a jury that could not reach a unanimous verdict. The telegraph story was published the same day and was picked up by every other British media outlet which repeated the same glaring error initially made by Sue Clough. I mistakenly chose not to challenge this falsity at the time it occurred as I was focused on trying to rebuild my life but in retrospect should have contested it immediately as this detail continued to haunt and distort the real facts of the case that occurred on March 9th 1999. However it is never too late for the truth to come out and that is why after 13 years I have decided to publish the expert report from the telecoms engineer, David Bristowe, which proves that no mobile phone was being used and which contradicts the story by Sue Clough. This should also highlight the fact that the media, even a respected publication such as the Telegraph can and often make mistakes in their quest for sensationalist headlines and sales. The dawning of the Internet allowed the perpetuation of this lie about the mobile phone with every other media organization simply repeating the story without checking their facts.

Well the facts are the mobile phone was never used during the case and the cause of the patients cardiac arrest was never conclusively proved. I hope that the attached report will illuminate a piece of disinformation that has haunted the case and will now allow readers the opportunity to read the facts and see the truth.

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