A French court has jailed an alcoholic Belgian doctor and banned her from practising medicine after she botched a Caesarean section while under the influence, causing the death of a woman days after the birth of her child.
The court in the French city of Pau handed defendant Helga Wouters three years in prison, the maximum penalty for manslaughter, in accordance with prosecutors’ requests.
Wouters was on trial following the 2014 death of Xynthia Hawke, a 28-year-old British woman who died four days after the birth of her son, who was safely delivered through a C-section.
Hawke died from a lack of oxygen resulting from an intervention done by Wouters while under the influence and never saw her son, according to reports.
The court ruled that Wouters had been responsible for “a carnage” in the operating room that day, after she mistakenly intubated Hawke through her digestive tube instead of through the respiratory tract.
The court also said that she used a manual airbag instead of a ventilator in the operating room because she did not know how to make it work.
The investigation into the affair showed that Wouters had already been fired from two hospitals in Belgium due to faults linked to her alcoholism, French daily Le Figaro reports.
While Wauters admitted to drinking vodka on the morning on the procedure as well as a glass of wine before being called back for Hawke’s operation, she denied being drunk during the procedure.
During the hearing, she read a statement before saying she would exercise her right to remain silent but said that “she did not deserve to go to prison.”
She initially did not address a word to the family of the victim, but issued an apology and asked to speak to them on the final day of the trial, a request which the family refused.