Posted by: talkjack | February 7, 2009

Priya Ramnath kills patient. Did she play a Get Out of Jail Free card?

Which story do you think gets the most news coverage? A doctor killing a patient or a trivial remark by a TV presenter on the other side of the world?

I have a great deal of sympathy for the friends and family of Patricia Leighton, who died at the hands of Priya Ramnath not far from where I live.

You see, Patricia Leighton made the unfortunate mistake of seeking medical treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and a bunion. That’s right, a simple bunion. On her toe. Sore, yes. But lifethreatening? Then the NHS try to treat her. Priya Ramnath injects this woman with an adrenaline injection. Poor Patricia Leighton dies shortly after, fully aware that she is dying.

It has taken a shocking eleven years for the legal inquiry to conclude. It hit the news yesterday, and received very little attention indeed.

The behaviour of Priya Ramnath disgusts me. You see, it appears that there was reasonable dount that the adrenaline injection would cause harm. Ramnath was told by not one, not two, but three colleagues not to give the injection. Dr Ramnath ignored the consensus and gave the fatal injection. Her colleague Dr Doris Ng said he was horrified that the injection had been given.

This week Priya Ramnath was finally found guilty. She did not go to prison though, nor was she even fined. She was given a six month suspended prison sentence. For those of you who are not familiar with ‘suspended sentences’ its means ‘If you are naughty again within a certain timeframe and we have to punish you then we will also punish you for this crime. You will be sent to prison to pay for the crime for which you have just been found guilty.  However, commit no crime in the specified period and we will not punish you at all’.
This lack of punishment for Ramnath seems inadequate to me when you consider her behaviour, which can be summarised as:

  1. Ramnath ignores medical advice from multiple colleagues
  2. Ramnath gives the fatal injection to Patricia Leighton
  3. Ramnath flees the country days later, arriving in Florida
  4. Ramnath delays the justice process for ages by forcing the UK authorities to go through legal extradition proceedings in order to make her attend her trial.
  5. Ramnath  refuses to give evidence at the trial. Shame on her.

My deepest sympathies to the Patricia Leighton’s family, whose lives have also suffered as a consequence at the hands of Dr Priya Ramnath. This doctor’s behaviour embarrasses the medical profession, especially her attempts to avoid the law. I think her suspended sentence trivialises medical killing in the UK. Sending her to prison will not bring her victim back, but a suspended sentence is hardly a deterrent against future medical killings in this country.

Talkjack has always thought that we would save more lives by putting cameras in hospitals to monitor medical staff behaviour than we do by putting revenue cameras on roads in order to fine speeding motorists.

Bad news coverage

The Ramnath story got precious little publicity in the UK. The media chose to cover the non-story of TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson who, whilst on the other side of the world, described the Prime Minister of Bully Britain as a ‘One-eyed Scottish idiot’.

Amusingly, no one in the news story is disputing whether Gordon Brown is an idiot or not. The politically correct thought police and bullies are ranting about the use of the term ‘one-eyed’. They are not disputing that the use of the term ‘one-eyed’ is factually correct, but that it gives offence to the visually impaired.

There is an interesting comparison between these two news stories. Clarkson said he made his remark ‘in the heat of the moment’. Ramnath, however, killed someone because her workplace was a ‘pressure cooker’, according to Mrs Justice Rafferty.

Well, listen up folks. Talkjack is hearing impaired. If, hypothetically, Gordon Brown had only one working ear and Clarkson had called him  ‘half-deaf’, I would take no offense whatsoever. However, I do take offense at all the PC bullies ranting on about trivial slips of the tongue, which matter not one jot when compared to genuine serious issues such as the tragic killing of Patricia Leighton at the hands of Dr Priya Ramnath.

Talkjack thinks it speaks volumes about the press in Bully Britain that the Clarkson story got so much publicity, devoting so much news time to commentary by the outraged thought police, and gave so little news time in comparison to the Ramnath story, and no public commentary or debate on the subject of the NHS and medical killing.

For more information on either of these stories, click here and here. Note that the killing story is buried under local news, while the Clarkson slip of the tongue gets national publicity.

(c) Copyright Talkjack 2009



  1. It annoys me to read a rant/blog written by someone with no medical training and probably little more knowledge on the case then that gained from the twisted tabloid views. First of all to be clear I do not know the doctor in question or the precise details of the case or the family involved. Secondly I would second my condolences to the family over their loss. I am doctor who has worked for many years and is specialising in Intensive care in london. Now to start with, ‘a simple bunion’: to belittle the fact that this lady had septic shock from an infected bunion/break in the skin is completely absurd, and ignorant. People die every day from septic shock secondary to skin infection/cellulitis. Sad but true. Next take the expert independent medical opinion of Dr John Coakley, who is a very senior intensive care consultant in London with decades of experience. Dr Coakley after a detailed study of the case said this lady more than likely died from septic shock not the injection. Which to me speaks volumes and I’m afraid by far outways the opinions of other junior doctors around at the time, who potentially did not realise the gravity of this ladies condition. This view was reciprocated by the extradition judge in America. Now should have Dr Ramnath given a smaller dose of epinephrine/infusion or contacted the consultant oncall? maybe if time allowed, but maybe it didn’t. There will be many doctors, including myself I know who have given small boluses of epinephrine to septic patients to good effect as a short term measure. I just do not feel how in this case it can be said with any certainty her actions without doubt lead to Mrs Leighton’s death. At the same time I do not feel Dr Ramnath did herself any favours by leaving the country. Anyway I hope this will persuade some people to put down their torches and abandon this unfair witch hunt at the very least.

    >>>Talkjacks response:

    You are entitled to call my blog a rant, just as some people might think your comments are a rant. This is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder.

    However, I am glad you were prompted to comment on this blog. The blog’s main objectives were twofold.

    Firstly, to highlight the huge discrepancy in media attention between these two unrelated stories, which I feel trivialises the Ramnath story. Your medical comments are exactly the sort of statements that I feel should have been presented to the public in the Ramnath story. The Clarkson story contained press statements about Clarkson’s behaviour, I feel the Ramnath story deserved similar medical press statements to provide balance.

    Secondly, I lost a loved family member who was being treated by the NHS. Our family were horrified at the treatment, behaviour and conditions we witnessed in the hospital. We all felt at the time that we had witnessed ageism, zero concern for the patient, unhygenic conditions (we visited every day and kept walking around someone elses blood stained dressing left lying a few feet from the bed) and zero communication with the family about what was going on. You are quite correct, I am not medically trained. However, as a customer of the NHS and as a taxpayer I, like the rest of the British public, am entitled to an opinion. I believe that more openess and public awareness of NHS actions are warranted in the UK.

  2. I received a a trolling followup comment from this Dr P. They were blatantly baiting me. There was sufficient erroneous material there for me to write an entire blog in response, but I have a ‘Do Not Feed the Troll Policy’ so was unable to publish it.

    If you want a flavour of the comment, there was:

    – A lie about what I am not prepared to write. Inflamatory comments were based upon this falsehood.

    – Zero compassion for my family’s suffering in hospital from a self proclaimed member of the caring profession. Instead they used my pain as ammunition to try to win an argument with antagnostic comments. I would rather leave this Dr P under their bridge, although the troll is obviously angry at the sound of my feet trip-trapping across!

    – A surprising inability to identify fact from opinion. Dr P seemed to think I was reporting the news and should regurgitate every fact from one, but not both, of the two new stories I was comparing. It should be perfectly clear that I was commenting upon the news and comparing media coverage. I provided clear links to a relibale official source for both news stories in question should the reader want more facts than my brief summaries. Come on now, please, is it really that hard to identify fact from opinion? It’s not brain surgery!


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