Indian-Origin Doctor Charged With Medical Misconduct for Botched Delivery Can Return to Work

The tribunal ruled that the decapitation of the premature baby was an isolated error of judgement in an otherwise unblemished career of Dr Vaishnavy Laxman.


Indian-origin doctor Dr Vaishnavy Laxman, who was found guilty of medical misconduct for accidental decapitation of an unborn baby in the mother’s womb, can return to work following a tribunal decision in the United Kingdom. The tribunal on June 5 cleared her of the medical misconduct charges and said that her fitness to practise was not impaired, Metro News reported.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service panel told the tribunal that Laxman, 43, should have conducted an emergency cesarean on her 30-year-old patient when the doctors knew that the premature infant was in breech position.

However, the 25-week pregnant mother was told to push as the doctor attempted to pull the baby out in a natural delivery at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee in March 2014. The infant’s neck got stuck in the cervix, which was dilated only about 4 cm, which led to the decapitation. Two other doctors had to perform the C-section to remove the head from the womb. The head was then reattached so that the mother could hold him. The panel said in its report that appropriate course of action was cesarean, as the baby was in breech position with prolapsed cord, low heart rate with the mother’s cervix dilated only 4 cm.

As per the panel, the child was already dead before the decapitation happened in the botched 15-minute delivery.

Dr Laxman maintained that the baby would have died had the C-section been carried out. The tribunal, while observing that the decision to go with the natural birth fell below the standards that are ordinarily expected, said in its written decision: “The failing which the tribunal has found proved was not sustained, persistent or repeated, but rather a single error of judgement made in very difficult circumstances. The tribunal was satisfied that throughout the attempted delivery of baby B, Dr  Laxman believed that she was acting in both patient A’s and baby B’s best interests, and that she genuinely believed that proceeding with a vaginal delivery was the optimum course to take in the circumstances which existed at the time.”

Saying that Dr Laxman has “expressed genuine and appropriate remorse” and “accepted responsibility as consultant in charge,” it added that “at no point has Dr Vilvanathan Laxman sought to blame others for what happened or to minimize her actions.”

The tribunal then ruled that Dr Laxman will not receive a formal warning over the case, and an interim order on her medical registration has now been rolled back. The report said: “In all the circumstances, the tribunal has concluded that Dr Laxman’s conduct did not fall so far short of the standards of conduct reasonably to be expected of a doctor as to amount to serious misconduct. In respect of patient safety, the tribunal was satisfied that Dr Laxman does not currently present a risk to patients. Dr Laxman’s wrong decision related to an isolated, single incident in an otherwise unblemished career.”

It added: “‘Nothing in this determination should detract from the fact that on March 16 2014 Dr Vilvanathan Laxman made a significant error of judgement which had serious consequences and a profound impact upon patient A and for which Dr Vilvanathan Laxman bears a heavy responsibility.”

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