Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Monday, November 1, 1999 Published at 12:13 GMT

Bristol inquiry to probe death figures

The inquiry will examine new evidence on death rates

A fresh examination of mortality figures among heart patients at Bristol Royal Infirmary could shed more light on the true performance of the surgeons at the centre of the tragedy.

The Bristol Heart Babies
The new evidence, to be presented to the inquiry on Wednesday, represents a far wider probe than that undertaken by the General Medical Council, which disciplined three doctors from the hospital.

The audits, carried out by cardiac and statistical experts from across the country, could provide an conclusive answer to claims from the surgeons that acceptable overal death rates had been marred by a "cluster" of unsuccessful operations.

The inquiry panel will hear statistical analysis of results over a 12 year period up until 1995, when the problems at Bristol were exposed.

The study will compare these results with 11 other centres in the UK carrying out similar operations during the same period.

Detailed look

Another study has looked in detail at 80 cases of adult and child heart surgery picked at random from more than 1,800 undertaken over the 12 years.

It may help the inquiry find out whether it was the quality of the surgery that led to any increased death rates, or some other factor such as the quality of intensive care following surgery.

The operation at the centre of the the GMC case was the arterial switch, which is carried out on babies born with a defect which means their heart blood vessels have developed wrongly.

It involves "swapping" the positions of the two arteries connected to the heart.

Death rates in this procedure in the few years leading to 1995 were apparently higher at Bristol, than at other UK centres.

Surgeon James Wisheart, and hospital manager Dr John Roylance were both struck off by the GMC after it decided that the operations should have been stopped earlier as the poor results became obvious.

Another surgeon, Dr Janardan Dhasmana, was banned from operating on children, and was subsequently sacked by the hospital trust.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Relevant Stories

18 Oct 99 | The Bristol heart babies
Ward known as 'departure lounge'

21 Sep 99 | The Bristol heart babies
'Hospital gave me baby's heart in box'

08 Sep 99 | The Bristol heart babies
Heart nurse's 'gut feeling' about Bristol

Internet Links


Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Bristol: Surgery may not be to blame

Tragedy of the heart op babies

Coroner in the dark on organ retention

Ward known as 'departure lounge'

TV doctor to help Bristol inquiry

Bristol mother 'devastated' by organ retention

Bristol whistleblower offers evidence via video

Organ scandal doctors 'presumed too much'

Parents blast hospital over missing organs

'Hospital gave me baby's heart in box'

GMC chief frustrates parents

Heart nurse's 'gut feeling' about Bristol

Mother 'rushed' into switching off life-support

Lifting the shame of Bristol

Surgeon tells of 'chronic workload'

NHS 'cavalier' over organ consent

Parents praise Bristol heart surgeons

Bristol chief: Managers powerless to intervene

Bristol unit used 'out-of-date operation'

Disgraced doctor loses appeal

'Travesty of brain-damaged success'

Grieving father suspected cover-up

Surgeon obtained consent 'fraudulently'

Bereaved parents 'treated shamefully'

Bristol surgeon 'saved baby'

Bristol inquiry hears of stolen database

Parents pack inquiry launch

Uncovering the Bristol scandal