BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) – A Cape Cod doctor was indicted for manslaughter Wednesday in the death of a 22-year-old patient whose heart stopped after he performed an abortion.

Dr. Rapin Osathanondh, an obstetrician/gynecologist, was charged in the death last year of Laura Hope Smith of Sandwich.

Smith, who was 13 weeks pregnant, went to Osathanondh’s Hyannis office on Sept. 13 for an abortion. She was pronounced dead at Cape Cod Hospital later that day.

Osathanondh, pronounced O-SATH-an-on, resigned his medical license in February after the Board of Registration in Medicine investigated the circumstances of Smith’s death at the urging of Smith’s mother, Eileen.

Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe said Smith died of cardiopulmonary arrest while under anesthesia.

“Basically, her heart stopped as a result of … the manner in which the medical procedure was undertaken by the doctor,” O’Keefe said. “The manner in which it was done was, in our view, willful, wanton and reckless conduct.”

Smith’s mother alleged in a lawsuit that Osathanondh did not properly monitor Smith while she was under anesthesia.

“Had she been on the proper monitoring equipment, her heart rate, her pulse rate, her oxygen level, would have been monitored and any dangerous decrease could have been picked up immediately. Resuscitative or corrective measures could have been taken promptly, and would have avoided her death,” said Eileen Smith’s attorney, David Angueira.

Osathanondh’s attorney, Paul Cirel, called Smith’s death “an unfortunate tragedy,” but said Osathanondh is not to blame.

“Medical science has gotten to the point where anytime this happens, people look to point blame, but sometimes these things are inexplicable,” Cirel said. “It is a tragedy, but it doesn’t mean that he bore responsibility for it.

“We will vigorously defend him against the indictment and we have every expectation that Dr. Osathanondh will be exonerated.”

Osathanondh, 65, who is originally from Thailand, had been licensed to practice medicine in Massachusetts since 1974.

He resigned his medical license the same day the Board of Registration in Medicine issued a scathing list of charges against him, alleging that he had “engaged in conduct that calls into question his competence to practice medicine.”

In its Feb. 20 “statement of allegations,” the board said Osathanondh did not have any means of monitoring Smith’s heart, and did not have oxygen or a functioning blood pressure cuff in the room during Smith’s abortion.

The board also alleged that Osathanondh “failed to adhere to basic cardiac life support protocol” and did not call 911 in a timely manner.

The board said he deceived staff members by claiming he gave Smith oxygen during the procedure when he did not, and by saying that Smith was monitored by a pulse oximeter during her procedure when she was not.

The board said the only other person who was present during the procedure was an office worker who did not have CPR training and was not trained in resuscitative measures.


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