Drunken Anaesthetic Jailed Over British Woman’s C-Section Death

Pau, France, Nov 12 (AFP/APP): A French court on Thursday sentenced a Belgian anaesthetist to three years in jail and banned her from practising medicine over the death of a British woman after an emergency Caesarean section she performed while drunk.

Helga Wauters, 51, was found guilty of manslaughter over the death of Xynthia Hawke, who died four days after a chaotic procedure that starved her brain of oxygen. Hawke, whose baby survived, was overdue when admitted to the maternity ward of Orthez hospital near the southwestern city of Pau on September 26, 2014. Wauters, who was less than two weeks into the job, inserted a ventilation tube into Hawke’s food pipe instead of her windpipe.

She also allegedly used an oxygen mask instead of a ventilator. Wauters was not in court for the ruling. She admitted starting the fateful day with a mix of vodka and water, “like every day” for the previous 10 years. But she denied being solely responsible for Hawke’s death, insisting that other staff were also to blame and claiming that the ventilator was not working at the time — though the investigation concluded this claim was not true.

Wauters had given Hawke an epidural local anaesthetic earlier in the day. During the birth, complications arose, requiring an emergency C-section. When she returned to the maternity ward after being called in to administer a general anaesthetic, Wauters had alcohol on her breath, according to witnesses.

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