Inquiry into hysterectomies at private hospital in Kilkenny
A FITNESS to Practise medical inquiry has opened to investigate the cases of four women treated by consultant gynaecologist Peter Van Geene at the Aut Even Private hospital in Kilkenny.
Allegations of professional misconduct and/or poor professional performance have been brought against Mr Van Geene arising from four vaginal hysterectomies performed by him at the hospital.
The women were left with complications as a result, with one patient developing life-threatening pulmonary oedema, or fluid on the lungs.
All women, bar one, have asked for their identity to be kept anonymous.
One patient, Helen Cruise - who has waived her anonymity - will give evidence tomorrow.
At the Medical Council hearing today, a patient known as Patient A told the inquiry that she had attended Mr Van Geene in 2008 because of persistent vaginal bleeding.
At the time, her husband was gravely ill with a grade three brain tumour and had been given two years to live. However, he lived for six years and was frequently hospitalised.
She said her husband could spend up to four months of the year in hospital and the episodes of her bleeding would coincide with these periods of his hospitalisation.
It was thought that this was stress-related, she explained to the inquiry.
She attended a GP who then referred her to Mr Van Geene.
After examination, he told her that the bleeding would only resolve with a hysterectomy.
However the patient was concerned that an abdominal hysterectomy would leave her unable to drive for six weeks and asked him to perform it vaginally.
"If I'd known what would've happened I wouldn't have had it done as you could imagine," the woman told the hearing.
She had the procedure carried out but 48 hours later developed a persistent brown discharge.
This did not resolve despite several further examinations.
Eventually she sought a second opinion and that doctor discovered a fistula or hole in the vaginal wall. She had further medical treatment and in December 2012, a Colostomy was performed to give the fistula a chance to heal.
"To be fair," the patient told the hearing, the doctor, Professor Winter, had told her that the fistula "could have happened at any time."
However she said that she knew it had happened at the hysterectomy because that was when the discharge started.
"I had no problems before that," she said.
Now, six years on from her original procedure, the colostomy is being reversed this Friday, the patient informed the hearing.
However she said the doctor had informed that the procedure is "not going to be easy."
Nessa Bird SC for the CEO of the Medical Council commented to the woman that by the end of the week, that "hopefully that will be the end."