A foreign stand-in doctor who speaks limited English was seen using Google to check medical terminology at work, an official report revealed today.
The extraordinary episode was captured by auditors brought in to check on agency workers at the publicly-run Colchester General Hospital in Essex, eastern England.
Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust has since stated that all staff must have a proper grasp of the English language before they can work there.
Dr Barbara Buckley, managing director, said: “This doctor was observed looking up medical terminology and looking it up on the internet. We want doctors coming to the hospital, or agency nurses coming to the hospital to get language checks.”
The potentially catastrophic incident came to light during a meeting of the hospital’s board of directors yesterday. A report for the meeting said both incidents were ‘priority one’ recommendations. It said: ‘The second priority one recommendation related to a finding that a locum with English language difficulties needed to use Google to translate English medical terminology.’
The UK’s National Health Service has been beset by a series of fatal events in recent years involving doctors whose first language is not English.
In 2008, 70-year-old David Gray was killed when he was injected with 100mg of diamorphine – 10 times the recommended maximum dose – by Daniel Ubani, a Nigerian-born German citizen.