Anaesthetic failure doctor allowed to work again

A DOCTOR who failed to give a pregnant patient enough anaesthetic before an operation is set to be allowed to work 
unsupervised again.

Dr Jacques Vallet caused the woman to cry out due to the pain on her lower stomach during a caesarean section in November 2009. He made the blunder while working as a locum for NHS Lothian at 
St John’s Hospital in Livingston.

He had injected 2.3mg of a powerful painkiller diamorphine into the woman’s spinal cavity but failed to administer a local anaesthetic to numb the region as he should have done.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The woman felt “scraping and scratching”, and the procedure had to be delayed so she could be fully sedated during childbirth.

We exclusively revealed 12 months ago how Dr Vallet was hauled before a panel of the General Medical Council (GMC) following the error. The woman broke down during the hearing and said she felt “let down” by the medical professional.

He was allowed to keep his job but a series of strict conditions were imposed, including the requirement that he did not carry out obstetric anaesthesia unless directly supervised by a consultant anaesthetist. He was also told that he must complete appropriate retraining and produce evidence of it.

The conditions were put in place for 12 months, and a 
review hearing is set for later this month in Manchester when they could be removed, allowing him to work without 
restrictions on pregnant women in the Edinburgh area, which is listed as his area of practice by the GMC.

Margaret Watt, chair of the Scotland Patients Association, said: “This was a serious error. He probably took his mind off the job but that’s no consolation for the patient. I’m sure the pain was excruciating.

“Even if he’s been supervised for a year and retrained there should still be a follow-up. He should be checked every three months.”

Dr Vallet was hired by NHS Lothian through an agency and it is not believed that he has been directly employed by the health board.

The French doctor began working in the UK in 1983, although he did not qualify as an anaesthetist until 2003. There was no harm caused to the mother or the baby because of Dr Vallet’s error. The baby girl was delivered successfully after she was fully sedated.

At the original hearing, held in February last year, he 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. Then, chairman of the panel Dr David Flinter said it was “appropriate, necessary and proportionate” that the conditions were put in place.