London - A senior NHS gynaecologist who caused a baby to be decapitated in his mother’s womb has been found guilty of medical misconduct and faces being struck off.
Dr Vaishnavy Laxman, 43, ‘failed in her clinical decision-making’, a Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal hearing in Manchester ruled on Monday.
The tribunal was told that Laxman should have given the 30-year-old woman, known as Patient A, an emergency caesarean section because the premature infant was in a breech position.
Instead, the doctor tried to carry out the delivery naturally and tragedy struck when she urged the patient to push while herself applying traction to the baby boy’s legs.
The tribunal heard that the legs, arms and torso became detached, leaving the head in the womb. Two other doctors carried out a C-section to remove the infant’s head. It was ‘re-attached’ to his body so his mother could hold him before she said goodbye. It is believed the child was dead before he was decapitated.
During the hearing, Laxman, who qualified in Chennai, India, said she believed the baby would have died during a caesarean section. In a harrowing exchange during the hearing, Patient A looked at the doctor and said: ‘I don’t forgive you – I don’t forgive you’, as Dr Laxman stared down at the floor.
The tragedy occurred on March 16, 2014, while Laxman was working at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.
Panel chairman Tim Bradbury said: ‘But for Dr Laxman’s error of judgment... the decapitation would not have occurred. The decision to proceed with vaginal delivery represented a failure in her clinical decision-making.’
In her evidence, a tearful Laxman said: ‘I was trying to deliver a live baby, I was trying really hard, possibly too hard. I am distraught at the outcome.’
Laxman, of Dundee, has since been allowed to practise under supervision – but no longer works at Ninewells Hospital. NHS Tayside said ‘Our thoughts remain with the family at this difficult time.’
The hearing continues on Tuesday when the tribunal must decide whether Laxman’s fitness to practise has been impaired. If that is the case, she faces a further hearing and could be struck off.