GP lied about examining corpse before cremation

A GP who falsely claimed she had examined a dead body before signing a certificate authorising cremation has been fined – in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in Jersey.

The case was heard in the Magistrate's Court
The case was heard in the Magistrate's Court

Dr Sian Karen Baudains (33) repeatedly lied, saying she had examined the corpse of an elderly care home resident before signing the certificate.

She was caught when CCTV footage showed that she had not visited the home during the period between the death and the body being removed by funeral directors.

Dr Baudains was fined £2,500 after she admitted a charge of wilfully making false representations that she had examined a deceased person and signed and uttered a false certificate.

The charge was brought under Article 5 (2) of the Cremation (Jersey) Law 1953.

In the Magistrate’s Court, Dr Baudains, of Rue du Clos Fallu, St Martin, was warned that her actions were serious and could have a damaging effect on the medical profession and on public confidence in GPs.

Outlining the case, police legal adviser Susie Sharpe said that the GP, who works at Windsor Medical Practice at the Lido Medical Centre in St Saviour’s Road, where she is currently practising under strict supervision, had been looking after a patient at the care home until the woman’s death late last year.

The patient passed away at 6.30 am and a death certificate was signed by the on-call doctor. The body was removed by the funeral director at 7.45 am that day.

Two doctors are then required to sign a certificate to allow cremation to take place, and the first is usually the family GP, which would have been Dr Baudains.

The next day another doctor was called by the funeral director to be the second signatory.

That doctor spoke to Dr Baudains, as she had wanted to clarify when the body had been seen and was told it was on the day of the death.

The court heard that the doctor had concerns about Dr Baudains’ version of events, which she raised with the medical director for primary care at Health and Social Services.

The medical director spoke to Dr Baudains and reported back that she had seen the body at 8.30 am.

Miss Sharpe said this raised more concern for the second signatory, who then got in touch with the care home and eventually viewed the CCTV footage that showed that Dr Baudains had not attended that day.

Dr Baudains later contacted the medical director to admit she had not seen the body and a few days later the GP confessed in an email.

Advocate Lorraine McClure, defending, said that Dr Baudains, who the court heard had been under ‘considerable stress’ at the time, had lost the confidence of colleagues and patients as a result of her actions.

She produced references which she said showed ‘the compassion my client has always shown for her patients’ and the lawyer said Dr Baudains was currently practising subject to strict supervision.

‘This was a one-off that was totally out of character and took place without any malice,’ she said.

In sentencing, Relief Magistrate David Le Cornu said: ‘This is a serious offence that can have a damaging effect on the medical profession and on public confidence.’

He added: ‘It is accepted that you were under considerable stress at the time, but that was no excuse for departing from your professional standards.’

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