UK gynaecologist before medical tribunal after bungled delivery decapitates baby

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Photo credit: Ricky Champagne, Cavendish Press

An unborn baby was decapitated in his mother’s womb as a result of a bungled delivery by an UK National Health Service (NHS) consultant gynaecologist, a medical tribunal was told.

Dr Vaishnavy Laxman, 41, should have given her patient, at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, an emergency caesarean section because the premature infant was in a breech position but instead attempted to carry out the delivery naturally, it was alleged.

Laxman urged the expectant mother to push while the doctor applied traction to the baby’s legs, causing the infant’s legs, arms and torso to become detached from the head, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester heard. It is claimed the 30-year-old, known only as Patient A, was not even in established labour when the tragedy occurred on 16 March 2014.

The report says two other doctors subsequently carried out a caesarean section to remove her son’s head, which was reattached to his body so his mother could hold him to say goodbye.

Charles Garside QC, a lawyer for the General Medical Council, said: “The baby had a heartbeat, it was slow, but it was not dead. The choice was taken by Dr Laxman to try a vaginal delivery and this was the wrong choice. They should never use a vaginal delivery in that situation.

“New babies are fragile, but this tiny baby was more fragile, and being pulled or twisted could do a lot more damage.’’

The report says Patient A’s waters had broken early at 25 weeks and upon examination her unborn baby was found to have a prolapsed cord, and was in a breech position while the mother’s cervix was about 2-3cm dilated. It can be up to 10cm when fully dilated.
In Patient A’s evidence, given while clutching two teddy bears, she told the tribunal she had previously been told because her baby was in breech it would be delivered by caesarean section “if anything happened”.

She said: “I was not given gas and air – I was in pain. I had the doctors putting their hands inside me and I had them pushing on my stomach and then pulling me down.

“I tried to get off the bed but they pulled me back three times and just said they had to get the baby out. They twice tried to cut my cervix and nobody told me they were going to do it. There was no anaesthetic. I said to them ‘it doesn’t feel right, stop it, what’s going on, I don’t want to do it’, but nobody responded to me in any way.”

She told the hearing: “I would never use the word stillborn; he was not stillborn, he was decapitated.”

The report says addressing Laxman, who denies contributing to the death of the baby, she told her: “I don’t forgive you – I don’t forgive you,” as the doctor, who faces being struck off, stared at the floor. Patient A then looked away as Laxman’s lawyer apologised on her behalf.

Gerard Boyle QC told her: “Dr Laxman has asked me to say she is so very sorry and deeply saddened for the outcome of your baby. She knows that no amount of words can or will soften your pain but she is hoping that knowing that what she was trying to do was her very best to deliver your baby quickly and sufficiently and she had best intentions at heart.”

The hearing continues.

The Guardian report

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