Trial of Paediatrician Who Falsely Diagnosed Cancer in Children for Payment Adjourned

Ian Leonard

January 21, 2022

A paediatrician who falsely diagnosed cancer in children so their parents would be scared into paying for expensive private treatment will learn later this year if he’s to be struck off.

Dr Mina Chowdhury, 45, wrongly claimed that three young patients - one just 15 months old - had cancerous conditions so his company could cash in by arranging scans and tests.

A medical tribunal was due to decide this week what sanction he would face, which could include erasure from the medical register. But the hearing will now take place in June after the doctor made application to adjourn proceedings on health grounds.

Actions Found 'Financially Motivated'

Chowdhury, who worked as a full-time consultant in paediatrics and neonatology at NHS Forth Valley, set up his private Meras Healthcare clinic in Glasgow in 2014.

But when the clinic made losses he sought to boost income by making the false diagnoses and recommending expensive testing or treatment in London, for which he would charge a mark-up fee of up to three times the actual cost.

He also steered parents away from free NHS treatment, recorded false information in patients’ records and refused to communicate with patients’ GPs.

A Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) tribunal found him guilty of misconduct in August for failing to provide good clinical care to the three patients by creating an “unwarranted sense of concern” for parents "without clinical justification".

His actions, it concluded, were "financially motivated" and dishonest.

Recommended Expensive Private Treatment

Parents told the tribunal of their shock and upset at receiving Chowdhury’s diagnoses during consultations between March and August 2017.

He told the parents of a 15-month-old girl - known as Patient C - that a lump attached to the bone in her leg was a "soft tissue sarcoma" and a second lump had developed.

Chowdhury urged them to see a doctor in London who could arrange an ultrasound scan, a MRI scan and biopsy and told them: "if things are happening it is best to get on top of them early".

He also warned that it would be "confusing" to return to the NHS for treatment.

But the parents spoke to another doctor and took their daughter to A&E, where an ultrasound scan revealed that the lumps were likely fat necrosis. And Patient C was later discharged when her bloods tests came back as normal.

The child’s mother told the tribunal that she and her husband had been "very upset" at Chowdhury’s diagnosis.

She later read Dr Chowdhury’s consultation notes and was left "angry" because they were a "total falsification" of what was said to her.

Chowdhury told the parents of a 2-year-old boy - known as Patient B - that he could have blood cancer or lymphoma, making his mother’s "head spin".

He also said he’d detected a heart murmur and falsely claimed there was nowhere in Scotland where an NHS echocardiogram, a heart scan, could be carried out on children.

Chowdhury suggested private treatment in London at cost of £10,000, including travel and accommodation, and failed to refer the family to a NHS paediatric oncology service.

He told the mother of a third patient, a teenage girl known as Patient A: "We are now going to have a serious conversation, the kind that all parents dread. We are going to talk about the 'C' word."

Chowdhury claimed he’d found a lump in her daughter’s stomach - a neuroblastoma - and it "could spread if left untreated".

The mother, who was left in "total shock" at the diagnosis, was advised to travel to London’s Portland hospital with her daughter for a MRI scan.

Chowdhury also advised her to arrange urgent blood tests, costing £3245 but "reduced" to £1947, and refused to write to the mother’s GP to see if treatment could be obtained on the NHS.

Under 'Financial Pressure'

Records showed Meras Healthcare had operated at a loss for 2 years and was under "financial pressure", with income from the clinical side of the business coming from fees for consultations and referrals for third-party investigations.

But the mark-up for referrals, whether for a blood test or an MRI scan, was between 50% and 300% meaning there were "significant" potential financial gains, the tribunal noted.

Chowdhury, who was suspended in September, disputed parents’ version of events and claimed he had given a "measured and differential" diagnosis in each case.

He claimed that parents had pressed him into discussing the unlikely possibility of a more serious diagnosis, were "overly anxious" and had misunderstood discussions during consultations.

But the tribunal found serious concerns regarding the "integrity, accuracy and honesty" of his notes, which did not tally with patients’ accounts.

Giles Powell, counsel for Chowdhury, said the doctor was currently on sick leave and had sold his house due to "financial difficulties".

He cited health matters as the reason for requesting an adjournment, which the tribunal agreed to after sitting in private.

The tribunal is due to reconvene on June 27-30.

Ian Leonard is a freelance journalist experienced in covering MPTS hearings.

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