Consultant wrongly accused of being drunk
Published 12/01/2014 | 02:30
A consultant in a Dublin hospital was ordered to leave an operating theatre after he was wrongly accused of being drunk on the job.
The consultant had been called into the hospital's emergency department to treat a patient seriously injured in a car accident.
Afterwards, he was confronted in his office by the hospital's clinical director and hospital administrator who said he was suspected of being drunk and ordered him to leave the building.
The consultant denied the allegations and insisted on a blood test, which later proved that there was not a trace of alcohol in his system.
He is now expected to sue the hospital and the hospital managers who accused him for defamation.
The consultant's case has been taken up by Professor Bill Tormey, also a hospital consultant and a Fine Gael councillor. He said he planned to raise the "disgraceful episode" at the next meeting of the Health Service Executive's regional forum next week, which he chairs.
He said the consultant was devastated by the accusations, which were witnessed by several of his colleagues.
It is understood that the "drinking" allegations were made against the backdrop of a difficult interpersonal relationship in the emergency department. The consultant went on administrative leave as a result of the incident but returned to work two months ago.
In a letter to the HSE last month, Prof Tormey said there was "zero alcohol" in the blood sample submitted by the consultant.
He said he believed the consultant was "not afforded natural justice".
He wrote: "I am a public representative and as a member of the HSE Forum my duty is to hold officials to account and to advise the board of the HSE if a matter is agreed at the Forum."
He said that he was "acting in the public interest because the evidence I have witnessed is very troubling and is certainly in breach of the concept of natural justice and fair procedures".
The HSE said it could not comment on individual cases. However, a spokesperson said: "Where there is a query or an allegation in relation to any staff member's competence or ability to practice, patient safety is always the first priority.
"Hospitals have in place procedures which they follow should such an issue arise, which can include a staff member being taken off duty.
"Any such issues or allegations are thoroughly reviewed in line with HSE policy. If an allegation is not substantiated following a review, the appropriate actions would be taken."