Anaesthetist's mistakes led to death of boy, 10

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An anaesthetist responsible for treating a 10-year-old boy who died following a routine dental operation made a string of mistakes, the General Medical Council ruled yesterday.

An anaesthetist responsible for treating a 10-year-old boy who died following a routine dental operation made a string of mistakes, the General Medical Council ruled yesterday.

The professional conduct committee made the findings in the case of Dr John Evans-Appiah, 58, who was administering anaesthetic to Darren Denholm at a clinic in Edinburgh when the boy suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

The GMC found that the anaesthetist also made mistakes in the treatment of a woman as she gave birth by Caesarean section and attempted to interfere with evidence.

After finding the allegations against Dr Evans-Appiah proved, the committee said it would decide on Monday whether they amounted to serious professional misconduct.

The tribunal found that Dr Evans-Appiah, of Leyton, east London, failed to keep records of Darren's treatment or the depth of anaesthesia, and did not respond when he was told the boy had "changed colour".

Darren, of Armadale, West Lothian, was pronounced dead in hospital after undergoing surgery on 9 October 1998.

His mother, Isla, told the hearing that her son had been relaxed and happy as he went into the surgery to undergo what appeared to be a routine operation to remove a tooth.

She described Darren as "a very fit, healthy and active little boy who was never really ill". She added: "If I'd been told there was even the slightest risk, I wouldn't have done it."

Dr Evans-Appiah admitted that he failed to ensure that a blood pressure cuff was attached to Darren either before or after the anaesthetic was administered, and that he entered false details on a record form after the boy was taken to hospital.

The anaesthetist did not issue clear instructions or co-ordinate his team of surgeons and later tried to persuade the dentist, Hallgeir Pedersen, and the dental nurse to say that a blood pressure reading had been taken, the GMC found.

He also admitted failing to ensure that an electrocardiogram was attached to Darren before or after he administered the anaesthetic.

The hearing ruled that Dr Evans-Appiah wrongly advised Mr Pedersen to give Darren a local anaesthetic during the surgery and should have known that such action would have caused an irregular heartbeat.

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