The disciplinary hearing was told yesterday that the surgeon in a hurry removed the wrong kidney from a patient and left her dependent on dialysis, as he did not bother to read her medical notes. Dr Jerome Blanchard took out his patient's transplant kidney, which was still functioning, instead of her diseased natural kidney.
The woman is a 57-year-old mother of three, who now needs four hours of dialysis three times a week. She had a degenerative disease that leads to multiple cysts forming on her kidneys and had a transplant in 1994.In March 2004, Dr Blanchard, a surgeon at the Middlesex Hospital, removed the functioning transplanted kidney instead of the natural one. Claiming that although both were on her right side, she insists that she had made it clear that it was the enlarged polycystic one that was to be removed. The mistake was noticed the following day.
It was told at the hearing in the panel assessing his fitness to practise that Dr Blanchard, who qualified in France in 1991, did not read the woman's records or discuss the procedure properly when they met briefly before the operation. The woman though had signed a consent form on which Dr Blanchard had written that he was removing the transplanted kidney, but she did not notice this as he had abbreviated the word to tx. Upset and shocked about the mistake she is in the list for another transplant.
Ms Lydia Barnfather, for the GMC, told that the impression he had given her was that he was in a hurry. She also felt that if Dr Blanchard had discussed the operation properly with the patient it would have become clear as to what operation needed to be performed. There were other factors; including confusion on the theatre list that contributed to the wrong organ being removed the panel was told, but, Ms Barnfather added that the mistake would never have been made if Dr Blanchard had been carrying out his own duties with regard to getting an informed consent.
It was explained that although the woman would have had to have her transplanted kidney removed eventually, it would have lasted another year or two. The woman told the tribunal that the doctor had examined her stomach and had kept asking her as to where her transplanted kidney was, and that she had told him as to where it was while also telling him that it was the big polycystic kidney that should come out.
Dr Blanchard has admitted to removing the wrong kidney but denies misconduct relating to a failure properly to discuss the procedure with the patient or ensuring that he was performing the appropriate surgery. The hearing continues.