Senior Coroner Warns Department of Health Over Risk of Future Newborn Deaths.

Doctors actions resulted in an unborn baby being decapitated

  • June 12, 2018
  • Last week a Tribunal heard how the actions of a doctor resulted in an unborn baby being decapitated during delivery in March 2014.

    At that time, the doctor concerned, Dr Vishnavy Laxman, was a consultant gynaecologist at Ninewells Hospital.

    Dr Laxman was nearing the end of a 24 hour split shift on the maternity unit, when she was asked to see a 30 year old lady who was 25 weeks pregnant.  At the Tribunal, evidence confirmed that Dr Laxman proceeded with a vaginal delivery of the baby when the mother’s cervix was dilated by no more than 4cm and the baby was in the breech position. During this attempted delivery, the baby was unfortunately decapitated.

    The key issue for the Tribunal to consider was whether the doctor was correct in her decision to attempt a vaginal delivery or whether she should have proceeded to an immediate caesarean section.

    The Tribunal concluded that her decision to proceed with a vaginal delivery “was negligent and fell below the standards ordinarily to be expected”, however it did not amount to “serious misconduct”. The panel found this to be an isolated incident, where the outcome “was not reasonably foreseeable” given the unusual circumstances and emergency situation that presented. 

    In addition, they noted that “even good doctors can make mistakes” and concluded that Dr Laxman did not present a risk to patients on the basis that this one wrong decision was an “isolated event”. As the Tribunal did not feel that there had been an impairment of her fitness to practise, no warning was imposed and the current restrictions on Dr Laxman, that were in place whilst the investigation took place, were revoked. Dr Laxman is now free to return to normal practice. 

    Elizabeth-McCumisky, Solicitor, Medical Accident Group

    Elizabeth Wickson,
    Associate Solicitor

    Elizabeth Wickson, Associate Solicitor at the Medical Accident Group, said that “it is shocking to think that this doctor has been allowed to continue to practice even though a severe error of judgement has been accepted. Whilst we would not want to advocate doctors being struck off on a regular basis, such a serious error of judgement should not go unpunished. I hope that lessons have been learned from this case, as no mother should have to experience such a traumatic delivery that resulted in this devastating outcome.”

    If you or a loved one have suffered an injury as a result of substandard care from the NHS, Medical Accident Group can help. Our experienced and dedicated team, whose knowledge of clinical negligence and personal injury law is extensive, can support you through the process of making a claim and seeking justice. We can advise on issues from brain injury or birth injury to surgical and medical errors and accidents at work. Call us free on 0800 050 1668.

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