Doctor, 33, who went missing from A&E ward for two hours is struck off

Newly qualified doctor, 33, who went missing from busy A&E ward for two hours so she could have a nap in a changing room and lied about her qualifications is struck off

  • Dr Raisah Sawati, 33, was found asleep on a bench at Fairfield Hospital near Bury
  • Doctor had also failed a patient who died of respiratory failure at a nursing home 
  • She was criticised over work during string of training placements, tribunal heard 
  • Sawati has since passed her foundation year and is appealing erasure decision

A newly qualified doctor has been struck off after she went missing from a busy A&E ward for two hours so she could have a nap in a changing room.

Dr Raisah Sawati, 33, was found asleep on a bench after colleagues reported her missing from duty at Fairfield Hospital near Bury, Greater Manchester.

Staff had tannoyed Sawati four times without successfully raising her after checks showed patients on her rounds were in need of follow-up treatment.

Two years earlier, Sawati had been found lying on a bed in a darkened side room having earlier requested permission to to leave the main theatre block at another hospital to undertake ‘audit work’ for a consultant, a misconduct hearing was told.

She had also failed a patient who died of respiratory failure at a nursing home, exaggerated her role in the treatment of a 10-month-old baby suffering a cardiac arrest, lied to colleagues about getting time off for study leave and lied about her qualifications in a job interview.

At the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester, Sawati was found guilty of misconduct, dishonesty and deficient professional performance. 

She has passed her foundation year competencies since the incidents and is now appealing against the erasure decision.

Dr Raisah Sawati (pictured above), 33, was found asleep on a bench after colleagues reported her missing from duty at Fairfield Hospital near Bury, Greater Manchester

The tribunal heard Sawati, from Dumbreck, Glasgow, had graduated in medicine in Manchester in 2012 but was criticised over her work during a string of subsequent training placements.

While working at Manchester Royal Infirmary in January 2015, she was found lying on a pull-down bed at 1pm in an on-call room at the Anaesthetic Department with the lights switched off.

Sawati apologised but denied she was asleep and refuted claims she was lying under bed covers’.

She was later transferred to Fairfield, where she falsely said a colleague had agreed to swap shifts with her so she could take time off. 

Sawati also claimed to have been the lead A&E doctor treating the seriously ill infant in a resuscitation room, when in fact she had only provided a ‘supporting role’.

The sleeping incident occurred in March 2017 after a ward sister known as Ms H realised Sawati, who was working as a night Senior House Officer, had gone missing from the A&E unit. 

Ms H said she was looking for Dr Sawati for 30 minutes before using the tannoy system on three or four occasions at ten-minute intervals.

The ward sister said she noticed a number of Sawati’s patients did not have a discharge decision recorded so went to walk around the department to look for her. 

She eventually found Sawati lying on her side with her eyes closed in the female changing room, under a hospital blanket.

In a statement, she said: ‘It was the first occasion I can recall that a doctor had gone missing in the A&E department.’

Staff had tannoyed Sawati, pictured left, four times without successfully raising her after checks showed patients on her rounds were in need of follow-up treatment

Sawati was later reported to a senior colleague by a registrar, who said: ‘She was missing from the floor for a while. Nursing staff has been looking for her to ask about a patient, in fact I was looking for her as well to enquire about a patient. 

‘She was found by staff in the female locker room asleep.’

A professor who complied a performance assessment on Sawati wrote: ‘I have given her the benefit of the doubt that that was a misunderstanding but these things do keep happening.’

Another report said her record keeping was ‘unacceptable.’

A third assessment concluded: ‘Dr Sawati was not sufficiently engaged in learning from day-to-day patients in the medical unit. Competence and performance was not improving with clinical exposure.’

Sawati claimed she had been sitting in the locker room with her back to the door and her knees drawn up in front of her. She cited another defence relating to sleep which was not publicly disclosed.

In a statement, she said: ‘I have reflected deeply upon the incidents which have given rise to the allegations, which appear to be largely characterised by confusion and misinterpretation.

‘I accept, in hindsight, that there are occasions where I could have behaved differently or shared further information which would have avoided some of the misunderstandings which have occurred.

‘I have also undertaken courses to help me understand how I found myself in this situation and to deal with any future situations in a way that does not risk my integrity being called into question. 

‘The courses have helped me to learn how to present myself in a professional and clear manner to minimise the potential for crossed wires.’

Fairfield Hospital near Bury, where Sawati was found asleep. She has passed her foundation year competencies since the incidents and is now appealing against the erasure decision

But Mr Paul Raudnitz QC, for the General Medical Council, said the doctor had ‘deep seated personality issues which do not permit remediation’.

He added: ‘There was a potential patient safety issue as Dr Sawati was on duty in A&E and there had been as many as three patients who went beyond the four hours target time for the processing of their cases.

‘She was missing for a significant period of time and it was an aggravating factor that Dr Sawati had not signed off treatment for a number of patients and as a result hey could not be discharged.

‘Her professional reliability and ability to work collaboratively are in question. I a doctor is not pulling their weight and not providing colleagues within the team the information needed then there may be consequences for patient safety.’

For Sawati, Ms Sarah Przybylska said: ‘There is no evidence that Dr Sawati put patients at risk. Ms H’s evidence was that a number of patients had breached waiting time targets, not that they experienced any clinical detriment. 

‘Her dishonesty was panicked and foolish, rather than deliberate and calculated. The panel should bear in mind Dr Sawati’s youth and the pressures she must have felt.’

But MPTS chairman Dr Deborah Brooke told the hearing: ‘During the period Dr Sawati was missing, her patients went unattended and did not have a clinical decision recorded.

‘The tribunal was concerned that nursing staff and the registrar were looking for Dr Sawati to ask her about patients and she was unavailable. 

‘While no patients came to harm, the possibility of harm to patients will always exist if a doctor goes missing without telling anybody where they are. 

‘She was inconveniencing her colleagues which could have had adverse implications for patient care.’  

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