Anaesthetist accused of grabbing ‘screaming and crying’ girl, 12, by the throat to put facemask on her before operation is cleared of assault
- Dr Ola Shalaby was trying to sedate 12-year-old girl before undergoing surgery
- She allegedly physically assaulted her while trying to put a mask on her face
An anaesthetist accused of grabbing a difficult child patient by the throat before an operation has been cleared of assault by a district judge.
Dr Ola Shalaby was trying to sedate the anxious 12-year-old girl before surgery when she allegedly physically assaulted her while trying to put a mask providing air and anaesthetic on to her face.
The girl was ‘screaming and crying’ and her mother, who was present at the time, shouted ‘get your hands off my daughter,’ Teesside Magistrates Court heard.
Dr Shalaby, 54, a consultant anaesthetist at the University Hospital of North Tees, was charged and taken to court for assaulting the patient in December last year.
She insisted she never put her hand around the girl’s neck and her account was backed by three members of the clinical team.
But the mother and two nurses said the doctor grabbed the child’s neck with her left hand.
Dr Ola Shalaby was trying to sedate the anxious 12-year-old girl before surgery when she allegedly physically assaulted her while trying to put a mask providing air and anaesthetic on to her face
Dr Shalaby, 54, a consultant anaesthetist at the University Hospital of North Tees, was charged and taken to court for assaulting the patient in December last year
After hearing the contradictory evidence, district judge Steven Hood said he could not be certain which version was correct and found Dr Shalaby not guilty, saving her career in the process.
He said: ‘When I apply the criminal standard of being satisfied so I am certain there was an assault by grabbing the throat, I cannot be satisfied that the matter has been proven before me.’
The youngster had been in hospital for five days awaiting an emergency abdominal operation.
The court heard the anaesthetist spent some time reassuring the girl before trying to put the mask to her face.
The mother told the court the doctor appeared ‘frustrated’ by her daughter’s behaviour.
She said Dr Shalaby said ‘if you don’t put that mask on I am going to put it on for you.’
‘She went around the back of [my daughter] and grabbed her by the throat’, she added. ‘I was just in shock – I shouted ‘get your hands off my daughter.’
‘She jumped off the bed and I took her away.’
Deborah Lane, one of the nurses on her first day in the job, told the court the girl ‘started screaming, struggling, just pure panic.’
Dr Shalaby, who has worked at the Teesside hospital (pictured) for 13 years, refused to comment outside court
The girl said in a police interview she was left really ‘scared and traumatised’ by the incident.
In her evidence Dr Shalaby was asked if she put pressure on the patient’s windpipe.
She replied: ‘No I did not. There is nothing in medical practice of this nature.’
Dr Shalaby, from Spennymoor, County Durham, said she gently guided the oxygen mask towards the girl’s face but at no point grabbed her around the neck or throat.
She added: ‘An anxious girl had been in hospital since the previous Friday waiting for an emergency operation, so we had to help her, that was my mindset, to help her.
‘There was no frustration, we were always just trying to help an anxious girl appropriately.’
Dr Shalaby, who has worked at the Teesside hospital for 13 years, refused to comment outside court.
The girl’s mother was furious at the outcome.
She said: ‘I was sitting in front of her and no one will ever convince me I was mistaken about what I saw. That incident traumatised our daughter to the point that she has needed counselling and she still remembers it vividly almost a year later.
‘It has shaken my faith in the doctors employed by the NHS after hearing the evidence they gave in that courtroom.’
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