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Tuesday, September 14, 1999 Published at 20:47 GMT 21:47 UK

UK: Scotland

Anaesthetist admits statements 'were wrong'

The clinic where 10-year-old Darren Denholm collapsed

The anaesthetist in the case of a 10-year-old boy who died after a dental visit has told an inquiry that early statements he made to police were wrong.

But John Evans-Appiah added that he had been in a state of shock at the time.

Dr Evans-Appiah was giving evidence on the second day of a fatal accident inquiry in Edinburgh into the death of dental patient Darren Denholm.

[ image: Dr Evans-Appiah: Early statements 'wrong']
Dr Evans-Appiah: Early statements 'wrong'
He agreed at the inquiry that he had said a number of things a doctor should not have said, and he was sorry if he had been misleading.

On Monday, Darren's mother told the inquiry the risks of general anaesthetic were not explained to her at the Peffermill clinic in Craigmillar, Edinburgh, last October, where Darren collapsed.

Darren, from Armadale, in West Lothian, was taken to hospital but efforts to revive him failed.

Isa Denholm said that no-one at any stage had explained the risks between local and general anaesthetic.

On the first day of the inquiry, Mr Evans-Appiah told procurator fiscal Robert Shiels he had been a practising anaesthetist since 1976.

He said Darren was brought in as an emergency and acknowledged he had seen the consent form filled in and signed by Mrs Denholm and accepted it was unsigned and undated by anyone else.

[ image: Darren Denhom: Taken to hospital]
Darren Denhom: Taken to hospital
Mr Evans-Appiah said he asked about Darren's previous medical history and added: "Darren was very much afraid of needles. I promised Darren that I would give him gas instead of the jab."

He agreed an assessment involving testing blood pressure and pulse normally was carried out on patients before being given general anaesthetic but said this did not happen with Darren because of his anxiety.

Mr Shiels asked him about figures recorded on the form detailing Darren's blood pressure and asked if he had carried out the pre-operative assessment.

The anaesthetist said he had carried out the assessment but accepted he did not record Darren's blood pressure.

After he had begun giving Darren the general anaesthetic, he walked around the boy and noticed he was moving, so he increased the gas concentration.

'Breathing shallow'

Mr Shiels asked if he formed any impression at this stage about Darren's breathing pattern and Mr Evans-Appiah replied: "Yes, I found that his breathing was shallow to the point that he might stop breathing."

Mr Evans-Appiah said he had failed the second part of an anaesthetics course which would have allowed him to specialise in that field.

Anne Smith QC, counsel for the dead boy's parents, said tests on Darren after his death had shown the general anaesthetic and the local anaesthetic had reacted with each other to kill the child.

Mr Evans-Appiah said he did not think this would have caused Darren's death.

The inquiry continues.

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