British Ebola survivor faces hearing accused of misleading doctors
Pauline Cafferkey became infected with the deadly virus while working in Sierra Leone in December 2014. She was treated in the UK after returning home, and later required two further hospital stays after suffering from complications.
The 40-year-old nurse is now facing a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) disciplinary hearing accused of knowing her temperature was dangerously high when she received a screening check-up at London’s Heathrow Airport on returning from west Africa — but allowed a lower temperature to be recorded.
A doctor at Heathrow found Cafferkey’s temperature to be 38.2 degrees, but told the hearing that a member of the group recording the values — “Registrant A” — suggested it be recorded as 37.2 degrees, thereby avoiding having to undergo further tests.
“Registrant A stated… that she would record the temperature as 37.2 degrees on Ms Cafferkey’s screening form and then they would ‘get out of here and sort it out’,” NMC representative Anu Thompson told the hearing.
“Ms Cafferkey has stated she recalls the words ‘let’s get out of here’ being used but now cannot remember who said it or who entered the temperature of 37.2 on her screening form,” Thompson added.
Cafferkey travelled to her hometown of Glasgow the same day as she arrived back in Britain. It was the next day that she was diagnosed with Ebola after waking up and feeling “very unwell”.
While explaining the dishonesty claim against the nurse, Thompson told the hearing that it should be withdrawn because Cafferkey’s ability “to make decisions and reason properly were affected” by her condition. The panel must still decide whether to reject the claims.
Cafferkey was successfully treated within weeks of her diagnosis but suffered a relapse in October 2015, when she became critically ill with meningitis linked to Ebola.
She made a full recovery but was admitted for a third time in February to London’s Royal Free Hospital, Britain’s only isolation ward for Ebola, due to another relapse and again recovered.
More than 11,300 people died from the disease before the World Health Organization declared last month that the two-year Ebola outbreak in west Africa was over, although Sierra Leone has since recorded new cases.
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