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Thursday 28 August 2014

Consultant who failed to track tests says system is outdated

Kevin Keane

Published 27/03/2013 | 05:00

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A consultant who failed to follow up on tests for a patient who later died of cancer believes that the system used for tracking patient results in Wexford General Hospital has not been "fit for purpose" since the 1990s.

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Dr Colm Quigley, who is the current statutory clinical director of the hospital, said financial constraints have prevented the system from being replaced.

He added that the hospital was one of the few in Ireland still operating such a system.

The consultant told a Medical Council inquiry that he couldn't explain why the tests were not carried out and said his performance fell below the standards he would have liked to achieve for his patients.

On the second day of a fitness to practise inquiry into his treatment of a man identified as Patient X, Dr Quigley said he was quite clear that a mistake had occurred and he accepted responsibility.

"Patient X didn't have his tests done in a timely fashion," he stated.

He also apologised to the deceased's family for sending them a letter enquiring after the patient's health shortly after the man had died and told the inquiry that a phone call he subsequently made to the deceased's wife to apologise "made things worse".

Dr Quigley, a former president of the Medical Council, faces nine allegations of poor professional performance in relation to his treatment of a Patient X, a smoker who had undergone an operation on his clubbed feet early in life but had gone on to live an active life and worked as a carpenter.

Patient X was referred to Dr Quigley by his GP in August 2009 because of low sodium levels in his blood. Dr Quigley faces allegations that he failed to ensure a series of tests, including a bronchoscopy (an examination of the airways) and an X-ray of the lungs were carried out.

He also faces an allegation that at a subsequent consultation with Patient X in December 2010, he failed to recognise that these investigations had not taken place.

Amputated

Patient X, who also suffered from perhipheral vascular disease, was admitted to hospital in early 2011 where his lower left leg was amputated.

He was subsequently discovered to have inoperable lung cancer and died from the disease on April 16, 2011.

Dr Quigley told the hearing that the tests he failed to carry out on Patient X would not have spotted the cancer from which he eventually died.

He claimed a bronchoscopy wouldn't have helped because when the same examination was carried out in March 14, 2011, there wasn't any abnormality found..

The inquiry has adjourned until a later date.

Irish Independent

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