GP’s notes found to be “misleading”

Tests established that Claire Taylor had been suffering from a form of Type 1 diabetes.
Tests established that Claire Taylor had been suffering from a form of Type 1 diabetes.

A former Kirriemuir GP made misleading notes in the case of local teenager Claire Taylor, a tribunal has found.

But the hearing, conducted by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) cleared Dr Michelle Watts of being dishonest in the record she made of the case leading up to the 17-year-old’s death in November 2012.

It was found that the “disjointed” record could be attributed to her state of the mind after learning Claire had succumbed to Type 1 diabetes.

Ms Watts, associate medical director of primary care services at NHS Tayside, admitted failing to recognise the symptoms of diabetes in Claire and spoke of her regret over the “catastrophic consequences” of the mistake.

The Taylor family and Dr Watts must now wait a further six months to learn if her fitness to practise is found impaired after the tribunal was adjourned until September, when it is due to conclude over a further five-day hearing.

Dr Watts was based at Kirriemuir Health Centre when the Webster’s High School pupil took ill.

Claire had visited four doctors before her consultation with Dr Watts, with each one failing to recognise that loss of weight, sunken cheeks and blue pallor were symptoms of Type 1 diabetes.

She had vomited bile and complained of abdominal pains, but Dr Watts’ notes omitted the vomiting and referred to the stomach pains as constipation.

An allegation that Dr Watts had intended to minimise the scope for criticism of her treatment of Claire was found not proven, although one note was described as “sloppy”.

The verdict said: “Taking account of all the circumstances, the tribunal determined that this was a genuine note of your recollection of the consultation, made in the context of your state of mind after learning of the patient’s death.

“The tribunal is not persuaded that your entry in the record was a deliberate attempt to minimise criticism.”

But the tribunal found Dr Watts had been misleading in failing to record the bile vomiting and sore stomach, saying there were “significant matters which should have been recorded.”

It continued: “Your entry that there were no new symptoms was wrong, and in itself misleading.

“The note contains some omissions and inaccuracies, either because you did not register the information being given to you or because of loose wording or making an assumption.

“In all the circumstances, the tribunal is wholly unsatisfied that your actions were dishonest.”