No warning for surgeon who removed ovary not appendix

A surgeon who mistakenly removed an eight-year-old girl's ovary instead of her appendix can continue to operate, the General Medical Council has said.

Dr Norlia Abdullah performed the operation at Hereford County Hospital as a locum doctor on 6 February, 2010.

She had performed the surgery up to 100 times before but not in recent years.

Her actions fell seriously below the standard expected but it was an isolated case and there was no need to issue a warning, the council said.

The General Medical Council (GMC) hearing began on Monday and ended on Thursday.

No protocol

It heard Dr Abdullah had told the hospital's consultant that she was competent to perform the appendix operation but initially had not realised she had taken out an ovary by mistake.

The error came to light when tissue samples were examined and were found to contain ovarian cells rather than cells from the appendix.

At the time, there was no protocol at the hospital that temporary surgeons should not perform operations on anyone aged under 16, the hearing was told.

In deciding not to discipline Dr Abdullah, the GMC panel said it took into consideration that she was a specialist breast surgeon, although it accepted that appendicectomies are commonly performed by junior doctors in the UK.

Eligible to work

Dr Abdullah has since undertaken retraining at the Universiti Kebangsann Malaysia Medical Centre where she qualified in 1990.

Since the ovary mistake in Hereford Dr Abdullah has performed three appendix operations under supervision at her former university in Malaysia where she continues to work as a senior consultant and lecturer.

The GMC found that Dr Abdullah did not pose a risk to patients and that confidence in the profession had not been undermined as a result of her actions.

In the circumstances, the panel said, it was not necessary to issue Dr Abdullah with a warning and she remains eligible to apply for work in the UK.

The hospital declined to comment on Thursday.

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