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London GP is cleared of practising female genital mutilation

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2807 (Published 16 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2807
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

A London GP who removed almost all of the labia minora of a patient during cosmetic surgery has been cleared of practising female genital mutilation by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.

Sureshkumar Pandya performed labiaplasty in March 2012 on a 33 year old woman named only as Patient A, who complained that her labia were “ugly” and made her uncomfortable. He saw her again a week later and recorded that the wound was healing well.

But a week after that, Patient A went to see another GP, who recorded in her notes: “Patient upset with procedure—not as expected—unhappy with surgeon—does not feel was told the whole truth.” Three days later Patient A contacted an out of hours service and saw another GP, who recorded that the patient “felt labia too big . . . She wondered if she had been circumcised—patient had no idea what this meant.”

These examinations led to a complaint to the General Medical Council. The panel also heard evidence from the gynaecologist who examined Patient A a year later, when she was pregnant. However, the patient herself did not give evidence.

Pandya admitted a charge of failing to keep an accurate record of his preoperative discussions with the patient. He agreed that the operation had not gone as planned but denied completely removing the inner labia and vigorously denied any intention to perform female genital mutilation.

“I am very much against it. I have never done it, and I don’t think I would ever do it, and I didn’t intend to perform it on this patient,” he told the Manchester hearing. “Every time when a medical intervention is done by a doctor with all due care, vigilance, and manual dexterity, one may still come across these events where the outcome of a procedure is something not expected and contrary, and I don’t think any doctor enjoys it.”

After hearing expert evidence, the panel ruled that the labia minora had been virtually removed by Pandya and that this represented a “serious clinical failure.” But to prove a charge of female genital mutilation, intent had to be shown.

The theatre logs at the Regency Clinic in Hoxton, east London, showed that this was a cosmetic procedure, requested by the patient, said the panel’s chairman, Anthony Morgan. “The panel has not been provided with any evidence during the course of these proceedings to suggest that you set out to remove all or virtually all of Patient A’s labia minora. It has not been provided with any cultural or surgical reasons as to why you would do this,” he added.

Pandya, who had worked as a surgeon in the past, was also cleared of damaging the patient’s clitoris and of practising beyond the limits of his competence. His fitness to practise was found not to be impaired.

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2807

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