Disgraced Whittington Hospital drugs doc struck off for botched op
PUBLISHED: 13:14 14 January 2011
A WHITTINGTON Hospital surgeon who pierced a woman’s heart on the operating table while on bail for laundering drug money has been struck off.
Dr Chinh Nguyen, 45, performed the spinal surgery on Satwant Vohra, 55, a healthy mother-of-two, at the private BMI Garden hospital in December 2008, just months before he was jailed for five years.
He “inappropriately” recommended a discectomy as a treatment for Mrs Vohra’s chronic back pain without discussing alternative treatments.
The woman, referred to as patient SV at the hearing, suffered huge blood loss from a pierced aorta and died the following morning.
Speaking after her death Mrs Vohra’s widower Baljit, 59, who runs a post office in Welwyn, Hertfordshire, said: “I have lost a darling wife. It was completely unexpected.
“My wife was healthy apart from a bad back.
“After seeing lots of people about it, we saw Mr Nguyen who advised surgery. He said it was a simple procedure.”
Vietnamese-born Nguyen, who lived in Windsor Road, Holloway, was later sacked from his full-time post as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at The Whittington Hospital in Magdala Avenue, Archway.
The surgeon was jailed for five years in May 2009 for laundering £2.35m from cannabis farms across London.
He is still an inmate at HMP Sheppey Cluster, an open prison in Sheerness, Kent, but has been on day release throughout his two-week central London “fitness to practise” hearing.
The doctor has already been told that he was guilty of serious misconduct, and that the conduct which led to his conviction would be regarded as “deplorable” by members of the public.
Panel chairman Alan Nisbett told Nguygen that a striking off order was “the only sufficient and proportionate way that patients, the public, and the reputation of the profession can be protected”.
“Suspension of your registration would not be a proportionate response to the seriousness of your conviction and your misconduct,” he said. “Doctors, patients and members of the public need to be reassured that serious misconduct of the kind in which you have engaged is unacceptable.’
The hearing has been told that Mrs Vohra attended the private BMI Garden hospital in Hendon on December 1, 2008, in unusually intense pain.
She had previously visited Nguyen for epidural injections.
Nguyen operated on the 55-year-old woman the next day, and immediately left hospital following the procedure, when colleagues noticed an abnormally low blood pressure, the GMC heard.
She had suffered huge blood loss from a pierced aorta and was transferred to the NHS-run Whittington Hospital for emergency surgery.
Upon arrival, medics found her in cardiac arrest and for hours surgeons battled in vain to control the bleeding before pronouncing her dead at 7.50am the following morning.
The GMC ruled his decision to perform the operation was “inappropriate, not in the patient’s best interests, and not of a standard to be expected of a registered medical practitioner”.
Mr Nisbett told Nguyen that he had shown a “reckless disregard” for good medical practice, and his actions were “fundamentally incompatible with being a registered medical practitioner”.
Nguyen had demonstrated “little insight” into his clinical errors, until hearing the evidence of the GMC’s expert witness during the misconduct proceedings, he said.
He added: “The panel regards the criminal offence for which you were convicted was of such a serious nature that a period of suspension would be insufficient to protect patients, the wider public interest and the need to uphold proper standards of conduct.’
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