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UK coroner calls German doctor ‘incompetent’ for lethal overdose

A UK corner on Thursday said a German stand-in doctor was grossly negligent for killing a British man with a mistaken overdose.

UK coroner calls German doctor 'incompetent' for lethal overdose
Photo: DPA

David Gray, 70, died after being injected with 100 milligrammes of diamorphine – 10 times the recommended daily dose – by Dr. Daniel Ubani in February 2008, a 10-day inquest heard.

The German doctor was on his first out-of-hours shift as an overseas “locum” doctor in Britain – typically used to provide care when a regular family doctor is unavailable, for example at night or on the weekend.

Coroner William Morris described Ubani as “incompetent and not of an acceptable standard,” and criticised the out-of-hours arrangements, saying: “Weaknesses remain in the system.”

Gray’s family called for the German doctor to face trial in Britain. Ubani cannot be extradited to Britain because he has already faced trial in Germany, where he was given a suspended prison sentence, British media reported.

The Briton’s son Stuart, who is also a doctor, said his father died because of Ubani’s actions and due to “serious failings” in the Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust and Take Care Now, the local health authority and medical provider.

“We want to see him tried under UK law for his death but we also want safeguards put in place nationwide to prevent this happening again,” he added.

The head of NHS Cambridgeshire, the National Health Service authority in England where the incident occurred, admitted failings.

“We accept that the systems failed, in that someone with Dr. Ubani’s qualifications and experience should not have been put in a position where he was able to make this type of mistake,” said Dr. Paul Zollinger-Read.

Out-of-hours health care in Britain has repeatedly come under the spotlight in recent years, following reforms of the system and a number of incidents involving uncoordinated and substandard medical care.

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GERMAN LANGUAGE

Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Germany

It’s that time of year again when many of us will be coughing and blowing our noses. If you're feeling a bit under the weather, here are the German words you'll need and some tips on what to do.

Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Germany

Corona – In German, Covid is most commonly called Corona. Self-isolation and quarantine (Quarantänepflicht) rules currently vary from state to state, but if you test positive for Covid, you’ll generally have to isolate for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 10. 

READ ALSO: Germany to bring in new Covid rules ahead of ‘difficult’ winter

Eine Erkältung – this is the German term for a common cold. You can tell people “I have a cold” by saying either saying: ich habe eine Erkältung or ich bin erkältet.

A cold usually involves eine laufende Nase – a runny nose – so make sure you have a good supply of Taschentücher (pocket tissues) at home.

If you have a verstopfte Nase (blocked nose) you can buy a simple nasal spray (Nasenspray) from your local drugstore. 

But in Germany, because only pharmacies are able to sell medicines, you will need to pay a visit to die Apotheke if you want to get anything stronger.

READ ALSO: Why are medicines in Germany only available in pharmacies?

At the pharmacy, the pharmacist will usually need you to describe your symptoms, by asking you: Welche Symptome haben Sie?

A woman with a cold visits a pharmacy.

A woman with a cold visits a pharmacy. Photo: pa/obs/BPI | Shutterstock / Nestor Rizhniak

If it’s a cold you’re suffering from, you may have Halsschmerzen or Halsweh (sore throat), Kopfschmerzen (headache) or Husten (cough).

For a sore throat, you might be given Halstabletten or Halsbonbon (throat lozenges).

If you’re buying cough medicine you will probably be asked if you have a dry, chesty cough – Reizhusten – or if it is a produktiver Husten (wet, productive cough).

If you have one of these you may need some Hustensaft or Hustensirup (cough medicine). If you have a headache, you may also want to pick up a packet of Ibuprofen.

While selecting your Medikamente (medication), the pharmacist might ask you a couple of questions, such as:

Sind Sie mit diesen Medikamenten vertraut?

Are you familiar with this medication?

Haben Sie irgendwelche Unverträglichkeiten?

Do you have any intolerances?

They will also tell you about any Nebenwirkungen (side effects) the medicine could have.

Die Grippe – if you’ve struck down with a more serious illness, it’s likely to be die Grippe – the flu.

Flu symptoms usually include Fieber (fever), Schüttelfrost (chills), Gliederschmerzen (muscle aches), Schmerzen (aches) and Appetitlosigkeit (loss of appetite). While both Erkältungen and Grippe are very ansteckend (contagious), flu is usually more debilitating and might require a visit to the doctor.

However, as the pandemic is still with us, many German doctors’ surgeries (Arztpraxen) still ask patients to stay away or come in during special hours if they have cold or flu symptoms. 

But if you need a sick note (eine AU-Bescheinigung) and are suffering from mild respiratory diseases, you can get this over the phone, until at least November 30th, 2022.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

If you are really unwell, however, you will need to go to the doctor at some point to get ein Rezept – a prescription. More serious cold and flu-related illnesses (Krankheiten) often involve Entzündungen (inflammations), which are often schmerzhaft (painful) and cause Rötung (redness).

Common inflammations include Nebenhöhlenentzündung (sinusitis), Bronchitis (bronchitis) and Mandelentzündung (tonsillitis).

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