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Tuesday, 19 June, 2001, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Doctor criticised over abortion death
Royal Bournemouth Hospital
Sharon Baggs was taken to hospital from a clinic
A "poorly-qualified" doctor has been criticised after a 19-stone woman went into a coma during an abortion.

Sharon Bagg, 28, died two weeks after the operation at a clinic in Bournemouth.

On Tuesday an inquest heard how she turned blue during the operation at Dean Park Clinic, run by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

But the East Dorset coroner, Sherrif Payne, said a delay in resuscitation made no difference and Miss Bagg would have been too brain-damaged to survive anyway.

Second abortion

The anaesthetist, Dr Sowny John, was criticised by an expert witness for having inadequate training, failing to monitor carbon dioxide properly and waiting eight minutes before starting heart massage.

The inquest heard how doctors decided to go ahead with the abortion despite risks caused by Ms Bagg's weight, because she had undergone operations before with no problems.

It was her second termination in six months.

Overweight person
Surgery carries risks for overweight people
Dr John said she had to give extra doses of drugs before the procedure.

The gynaecologist, Dr Phanuel Dartey, told how the ten-minute operation went smoothly.

But towards the end he noticed Ms Bagg's blood was turning dark through lack of oxygen.

He said he looked up and saw her face was turning blue.

Dr John then inserted a tube down the airway before commencing resuscitation.

Intensive care

Ten minutes after the crisis began, the inquest heard, doctors and an ambulance were called from the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

Ms Bagg's mother, Hazel Cann, said: "Those 10 minutes could have made a big difference."

But Dr John said: "It was only when we realised that it was not improving that we called for the other doctors."

Miss Bagg was moved to the intensive care unit at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, but died of brain damage on 21 March.

Dr David Holland said the heart attack was probably caused by Ms Bagg's obesity, the position she was lying in and the effects of anaesthesia on people of her weight.

He said: "It is not certain that with a slightly different anaesthetic technique another anaesthetist could have prevented this."

Brain damage

But consultant anaesthetist Dr David Tweedie said Dr John was not well qualified and had no hospital experience.

She had failed to go on recommended training courses.

The coroner said criticisms of Dr John were a matter of opinion and returned a verdict of accidental death.

"Even of she had called the crash team earlier," he said, "it would have been no use because the brain damage by that time would have been irreversible anyway."

Ms Bagg lived with her boyfriend of three years. She had been 14 weeks pregnant.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service said that following her death, it would use only consultant anaesthetists for patients at above-average risk.

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See also:

15 Jun 01 | Europe
No abortions on 'abortion ship'
30 May 01 | Health
Obesity epidemic warning
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