Doctor faces allegations he botched surgeries on four women
A woman developed life-threatening complications following a hysterectomy and another fought a six-year battle for her injuries to heal following the same procedure, a Fitness to Practise medical inquiry has heard.
The investigation relates to the cases of four women treated by consultant gynaecologist Peter Van Geene at the Aut Even private hospital in Kilkenny.
Allegations of poor professional performance have been brought against Mr Van Geene arising from four vaginal hysterectomies performed by him at the hospital between April 2009 and October 2011.
All four women were left with complications, with one developing life-threatening pulmonary oedema, or fluid on the lungs.
Three of the women asked not to be identified, while a fourth, Helen Cruise, has waived her anonymity and will give evidence today.
The CEO of Aut Even hospital, Annette Jolly, told the Medical Council hearing that Mr Van Geene was a consultant gynecologist at the private facility from 2006 until 2011.
One of the women, identified as 'Patient A', told the inquiry that she had attended Mr Van Geene in 2008 because of persistent vaginal bleeding, which began about four years after the menopause.
At the time, her husband was gravely ill with a grade-three brain tumour and had been given two years to live - although he went on to survive for six years and was frequently hospitalised.
She believed that the bleeding related to the stress of this and sought help from a GP, who referred her to Mr Van Geene, whom she first saw in 2008.
An examination revealed "nothing unusual" and Mr Van Geene put the patient on a course of hormone replacement therapy but it made "no difference," Patient A told the hearing.
On March 12, 2009, she went to see him again and Mr Van Geene told her that the only solution to the bleeding was a hysterectomy.
However, concerned that an abdominal hysterectomy would leave her unable to drive for six weeks, which would be difficult because of her husband's ill health, she asked him to perform it vaginally.
Patient A explained that she knew about this option due to a "medical book" she had at home but later claimed that Mr Van Geene had not properly laid out the risks to her.
"If I'd known what would've happened, I wouldn't have had it done, as you could imagine," she told the hearing.
She had the procedure carried out but 48 hours later developed a "repulsive" brown discharge.
This did not resolve and eventually she sought a second opinion. It was discovered that she had a fistula or hole in the vaginal wall.
She had further medical treatment and in December 2012, a colostomy was performed by colorectal surgeon Professor Des Winter, to give the fistula a chance to heal.
"To be fair," the patient told the hearing, Professor Winter had told her that the fistula "could have happened at any time".
However, she said she knew it was a result of the hysterectomy as that was when the discharge started and she had "no problems before that".
Six years on from her original procedure, the colostomy is due to be reversed this Friday, the patient revealed, but said the doctor had informed her that the procedure was "not going to be easy".
The Medical Council hearing continues today.