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Russian anesthesiologist sent to jail after 3-year-old girl dies

MOSCOW, August 25 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian anesthesiologist was sentenced Friday to two years in a penal colony for a mistake that led to the death of a three-year-old girl.

Alexander Rekunov from Ulyanovsk in central Russia was found guilty of causing death by negligence and banned from working on the medical professions for three years.

The court said the girl, Yekaterina Gulko, had died because the doctor had failed to collect information about her medical history, including her sensitivity to hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, before performing lung surgery.

Prosecutor in the trial Mikhail Balakshov said, "The court ruling is appropriate and agrees with the position of the prosecutors."

He added that it was the first case in the Ulyanovsk Region, whose eponymous capital is about 550 miles east of Moscow, when a doctor had been punished in practice for a mistake.

Prosecutors established that parents of the girl had brought her to a local clinical hospital for children on May 26, 2005 because she was suffocating and they suspected she had a cashew nut in her lungs.

An X-ray confirmed their suspicions, and the girl was sent for surgery.

Prosecutors said Rekunov, who was on duty, had failed to ask the girl's parents about her medical history, although the parents knew that the girl was hypoxic.

Prosecutors also said Rekunov had chosen the wrong type of anesthesia and extended the period of oxygen deprivation, which stopped blood circulation in the brain.

The girl was in a coma for a few days and died on June 4.

Prosecutors said the doctor should have used a different type of anesthesia that would not have led to a halt in breathing. Even though he had used artificial lung ventilation, prosecutors said Rekunov should have prevented hypoxia by monitoring the girl's pulse, skin color and other indicators.

They also said the hospital had insisted that the parents sign an autopsy waiver for fear of prosecution, which had hampered the investigation. But after a criminal case was opened, the body was exhumed and an independent examination took place in Kazan in central Russia on the Volga River.

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