A gynaecologist who caused an unborn baby’s accidental decapitation has been found guilty of misconduct.
Dr Vaishnavy Laxman should have given her 30-year old patient an emergency Caesarean section as the premature infant was in a breech position.
But the 43-year-old instead attempted to carry out the delivery naturally.
Tragedy struck when the doctor urged the patient to push whilst herself applying traction to the baby’s legs. The manoevre caused the infant’s legs, arms and torso to become detached leaving the head still in his mother’s womb.
Two other doctors subsequently carried out a C-section to remove the infant’s head, which was “reattached” so his mother could hold him to say goodbye.
It is believed the child was already dead before he was decapitated during the bungled 15-minute delivery.
At a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing in Manchester, Dr Laxman denied wrongdoing and said she believed the baby would have died had a caesarean section been carried out.
But at a finding of facts hearing yesterday, panel chairman Tim Bradbury said: “The tribunal was in no doubt that throughout her involvement in the attempted delivery of Baby B, she was endeavouring to achieve the best outcome for Patient A and Baby B.”
However, he said she had not “sufficiently addressed the risk” of proceeding with a natural delivery given Patient A was not fully dialated, namely the risk of head entrapment and the associated delays and complications.
“The tribunal did not accept that the circumstances were such that Dr Laxman should have assumed that a caesaren section would have no prospect of success,” he said.
“The tribunal determined that at this time, Dr Laxman’s priority was a live delivery and there was also a reasonable prospect that Baby B could have survived following an immediate caesarean section under general anaesthetic.
“The decision to proceed with vaginal delivery represented a failure in her clinical decision-making on the evidence available to her at the time.”
The tragedy happened on March 16, 2014 at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, after the woman’s waters broke early at 25 weeks.
Upon examination, her unborn baby was found to have a prolapsed cord and was in a breech position. Her cervix was between 2-4cm dilated. It can be 10cm fully dilated, so doctors told her she may have to undergo a C-section.
Dr Laxman however ruled that out, and after carrying out an examination told the mum to push. She was eventually given a general anaesthetic after her son’s head became trapped.
Mr Bradbury referred to the “increasingly desperate attempt to deliver Baby B’s head”, which resulted in the decapitation.
He added: “Her conduct set in train a course of events which ultimately resulted in the decapitation of Baby B.
“But for Dr Laxman’s error of judgement in this regard, the decapitation would not have occurred.”
Dr Laxman – who apologised to the mother at the hearing – will now face further disciplinary hearings to determine if she is struck off.