The fateful days of my last patient

Surgeon Mr David Sellu, convicted for gross negligence manslaughter of a patient – overturned on appeal after a 30-month prison sentence – continues his story from last month.

11 February 2010: Ealing Hospital, 7.45am to 6.15pm. The Clementine Churchill Hospital, 7pm to 10.40pm, then home

I thought I had an ordinary day ahead. But I was about to learn that an ability to relate past occurrences with precision could make the difference between a credible defence and a prison sentence in a court of law. 

My encounters with patients were carefully documented, so I have been able to consult my notes to help me construct what happened on that fateful day.

I spent the previous one performing two successful major cancer operations. I saw the patients in the ITU and then called their relatives to announce progress.

8.30am. Next, it was the multidisciplinary team meeting (MDTM) followed by a busy outpatient clinic lasting until lunchtime.

12.20pm. I quickly lunched in my office and finished dictating letters. 

1.10pm. On the wards to see four ill patients – there was not enough time for a full ward round. Then, at 1.30pm, an endoscopy list until five, plus another visit to the ITU and wards.

6.20pm. I packed my bags for the Clementine Churchill Hospital, the private hospital in Harrow, about seven miles away. An evening clinic was booked from seven to nine. 

My wife Catherine was still awake when I got home after 10pm. She too had been through a busy day as matron in charge of the A&E department where I practised. 

She prepared me a late dinner and I stayed up to update my records, dictate GP letters and obtain notes for next day.

Looking back, as I would do over the coming months and years, I would discover that I’d seen two patients in the ITU in the morning and discussed 15 patients at the MDTM. Twenty-one patients consulted me in the clinic at Ealing up to lunchtime. I visited six more in the ward. In the afternoon, I did six endoscopic examinations.