In July 2007 Mr GK, a 33 year old father and husband, went into Harefield Hospital for routine heart surgery. He and his wife had every faith in the competency and skill of Professor Dreyfus, the heart surgeon who would be operating on GK.
On Wednesday 6 October, the General Medical Council (GMC) found that that confidence was misplaced. In the course of treating GK, Professor Dreyfus failed to obtain GK's informed consent to a change in the operation method, which meant the surgery was no longer routine and was much riskier.
Professor Dreyfus carried out surgery that he was inadequately trained and prepared for, which as a consequence increased the risk of GK not surviving and when, after the theatre team attempted to take GK out of heart bypass, and restart the heart, it became apparent that the patient had suffered major injury. However, Professor Dreyfus failed to see the patients’ relatives to tell them of the outcome and complications of the surgery after he had left the theatre, but rather, after a period of time in the hospital, went home and did not speak with the family until the following afternoon, at their request. Furthermore, he did not delegate this task to any of the other doctors who had been in theatre with him so the family were given no explanation of what had happened until 2pm the following day.
The GMC found that this conduct does not meet with the standards required of a doctor, that it risks bringing the profession into disrepute and that it must not be repeated. Furthermore, a formal warning has been placed on Professor Dreyfus's record for five years.
Caron Heyes, head of the London Clinical Negligence at Blake Lapthorn represents the family in their civil claim against Professor Dreyfus's employers, the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust. She has specialist expertise in heart surgery medical negligence claims.
Caron said: 'It is right that it has been recognised by the GMC that what Professor Dreyfus did was wrong, and it has gone on record – that is the most important thing. The family are relieved that it is now accepted that this happened and what went wrong.
"For the family to finally have recorded as a judgement what happened is a good outcome of a long and difficult process for them. The family didn't go there for him to be struck off, unless the GMC had held that was the right thing to do, they wanted the truth to come out, and for Professor Dreyfus and his team, and other doctors in heart surgery to learn from his mistakes, and to prevent this tragedy ever happening again."
Daniel Baber, PR Manager at Blake Lapthorn
Tel: 020 7814 5489