A doctor who inhaled chemicals at a Leeds hospital and collapsed while on duty has been struck off.
Anaesthetist Gabor Szabo soaked surgical gauze with isoflurane – a liquid used in general anaesthesia – and sniffed it before falling to the floor at Leeds General Infirmary.
West Yorkshire Police later raided his home and found a stash of controlled drugs.
Locum registrar Szabo was found guilty of misconduct and immediately struck off the medical register after a Fitness to Practise hearing held on Thursday.
The tribunal’s findings stated: “The panel was in no doubt that the public would be deeply concerned by a doctor inhaling substances at work which then caused him to collapse.
“Such actions bring both Doctor Szabo and the profession generally into disrepute.”
Szabo was not present or represented during the hearing but contacted the General Medical Council to say his absence was due to travel expenses from his native Hungary.
Just before the incident at the LGI on November 5, 2011, one nurse said she saw Szabo ‘weaving down the corridor’ whilst holding the gauze to his nose.
Another described him doing a “drunken walk” down the corridor before he “bounced” off a wall and fell head first into the plastic surgeon’s office.
A male nurse said Szabo was shaking and mumbling and that his eyes were “rolling around in his head”.
Colleagues found isoflurane machines in all operating theatres were empty after Szabo had been seen inhaling the anaesthetic in the porter’s coffee room.
A week before his collapse at the LGI, Szabo was involved in a similar incident at Northwick Park Hospital in London whilst trying to anaesthetise a young patient.
Witness statements said the patient’s brother saw Szabo sniff from a tissue before falling into a wall whilst a nurse said he looked ‘dazed, flushed and strange’ as he staggered towards the patient.
The panel meeting rejected Szabo’s claims that he fainted as he was sneezing and was suffering from a cold and jet lag. In relation to the drugs found at his home in December 2011, Szabo claimed they were either his own antibiotics, samples, drugs he forgot to dispose of, or were bought in Hungary.
But the panel concluded he had taken propofol from work without permission and labelled his actions ‘disgraceful’, adding: “The trust a patient places in an anaesthetist is absolute. The panel takes a very serious view of such reckless endangerment of a patient’s life.” A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals said: “We have zero tolerance of this unacceptable type of behaviour.”