Doctor Dies In Horrific Crash

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EAST ANGLIA NEWS SERVICE, tel. 07767 413379 Trainee anaesthetist Dr Ronak Patel, 33, who died in a car crash after apparently falling asleep behind the wheel his VW Golf at Honington, Suffolk, after working three night shifts in a row at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, an inquest heard EAST ANGLIA NEWS SERVICE, tel. 07767 413379 Pic available An exhausted doctor who died in a car crash may have fallen asleep at the wheel after working three long night shifts, an inquest heard. Dr Ronak Patel, 33, was so tired that he tried to stay awake by singing to his wife on his hands-free mobile phone before he ploughed into a lorry. The trainee anaesthetist is believed to have fallen asleep on the A1088 road at Honington, Suffolk, just three miles from his home at nearby Ixworth. His wife Helen, 33, told police that his phone had cut off suddenly as he was driving home from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. She tried to call him back unsuccessfully 14 times without getting any reply before getting into her car and re-tracing his route. But the inquest in Bury St Edmunds heard that she was met by police who told her that there had been an accident. A police investigation ruled out mechanical defects or road conditions as causes of the crash which happened just before 9am on August 3 last year. Accident Investigator Pc Mark Webb said: “It is my opinion that the most plausible explanation for the collision was that Dr Patel fell asleep which prevented him from having appropriate control of his car.” The inquest was told that Dr Patel could have slept at the hospital after his shift, but was anxious to drive 40 miles back to his home. He was said to have been talking to his wife on the his hands-free mobile phone and the couple were also singing together to try and keep him awake just before the collision. Dr Patel’s VW Golf ended up partly in a ditch after colliding head on with the lorry and spinning around. Lorry driver Peter Stimpson said in a statement that he had seen Dr Patel’s car come around a bend and start to drift across to the wrong side of the road. Mr Stimpson said that he tried braking and pulling his lorry to one side of the road, but there was nothing he could do to avoid the impact. Dr Patel, who was declared dead at the scene, sustained a broken neck and other injuries, said Assistant Suffolk Coroner Yvonne Blake. Ms Blake recorded a conclusion that Dr Patel died as a result of his car being involved in a collision with a heavy goods vehicle. Dr Patel had worked since February last year as a trainee anaesthetist at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. A hospital spokesman said: “He was a highly regarded and capable doctor and was extremely popular within the department. “He had recently been working towards his anaesthetic Fellowship exams and it was felt he had a bright future ahead of him in medicine. Our thoughts are with his family.” Dr Patel, who grew up in Gosport, Hampshire, where his parents run a newsagents. He studied medicine at the University of Leicester before working at a hospital in Christchurch, New Zealand. His mother Mina Patel said: “We never knew how popular he was until we read all the tributes made about him on Facebook “His friends said he was very approachable and they could talk to him about anything. He would also talk to anyone who needed a friend. “Ronnie was an inspiration to everyone he met. “We were so proud of what he achieved. He always worked so hard to be where he is and even at school, he always tried his best.”
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Dr Ronak Patel, 33, was driving home from his shift as a trainee anaesthetist when his VW Golf crashed and ended up in a ditch, killing him. Experts ruled out mechanical failures. Patel had just finished up his night shift. On his way home, he called his wife complaining of fatigue. His wife attempted to keep him on the phone as an effort to keep him awake. But it seems the effort failed.

According to BuryFreePress.

Accident Investigator Pc Mark Webb said: “It is my opinion that the most plausible explanation for the collision was that Dr Patel fell asleep which prevented him from having appropriate control of his car.”
Dr Patel’s VW Golf collided head-on with a lorry on the A1088 Ixworth Road at Honington shortly before 9am on August 3 last year. The VW Golf ended up partly in a ditch.

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Patel’s death highlights a serious issue in the medical industry, which is the irresponsible scheduling of Doctors, Nurses and Trainees. With medical malpractice leading to patient injury and death at an all time high, shouldn’t there be a higher level of responsibility when it comes to working hours?

Consider the greater picture here: Would you be comfortable with a sleep deprived Doctor or Nurse working on you or your children? I assume you wouldn’t be.

The truck driving industry in the United States has come under fire in recent years. When comedian Tracy Morgan was injured when a sleep-deprived trucker crashed into his car, many called for new legislation over the trucking industry. But thousands of people die from medical malpractice and nothing is said about similar practices by hospitals?

I’m not saying that sleep deprivation is the entire, singular reason behind patient injury and death. Not be a long shot. But I am saying its one item among many which needs attention. If a medical staffer was too tired to drive his car, what type of care do you think his patient’s received?


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