C-section blunder doctor avoids sack

St John's Hospital in Livingston
St John's Hospital in Livingston
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A DOCTOR who failed to give a pregnant woman enough anaesthetic as she underwent a Caeserian section has escaped the sack.

Locum consultant anaesthetist Dr Jacques Vallet, 60, did not give the patient sufficient medication, causing her to feel pain on her lower stomach during the procedure on November 30, 2009.

Colleagues at St John’s Hospital in Livingston temporarily postponed the operation after the woman panicked and cried out that she was still in pain before fully sedating her. Her baby daughter was subsequently delivered successfully and no harm was caused to either mother or child.

At the General Medical Council in Manchester, Vallet was charged with failing to administer an adequate local anaesthetic and of advising the operating surgeon that he was safe to proceed when the patient was experiencing sensation and discomfort.

Yesterday, a disciplinary panel said his fitness to practise was impaired but ruled he could keep his job as long as he operated under a strict set of conditions.

During the hearing the woman, known only as Patient A, broke down and sobbed as she told the experience had left her feeling “let down” by Vallet, a Frenchman who began working as a doctor in the UK in 1983 but did not qualify as an anaesthetist until 2003.

He injected 2.3mg of a powerful painkiller, diamorphine, into her spinal cavity but failed to administer a local anaesthetic to numb the region.

The hearing was told that Dr Vallet had continued to work as a locum consultant since this incident and no concerns had been raised about his conduct since.

He had been contracted from an agency to provide short-term cover for NHS Lothian, but was never directly employed by the health board.

Panel chairman Mr David Flinter said: “The panel accepts Dr Vallet has shown some insight into his misconduct. However, it is not satisfied that he has addressed the errors which he made in relation to Patient A’s obstetric anaesthetic.

“Dr Vallet has not acknowledged that his actions in relation to Patient A subsequent to this error were serious in nature and could have placed Patient A at unwarranted risk of harm. The panel has concluded that it is appropriate, necessary and proportionate to impose conditions on his registration.”

Vallet will have to abide by a set of conditions over the next 12 months including not carrying out obstetric anaesthesia unless directly supervised by a consultant anaesthetist.