Garda in misdiagnosis tragedy dies
Top officer battled skin cancer with dignity and courage
Published 08/01/2011 | 05:00
A high-flying garda whose skin cancer was misdiagnosed by a GP who then tried to conceal his blunder died at home yesterday surrounded by his heartbroken family.
Supt Martin Dorney (51), a married father of three, died after he was last year given just nine months to live.
He had gone to Dr Patrick Lee in August 2003 with concerns about a mole on his right thigh. Dr Lee removed the mole and told Mr Dorney the results of a biopsy indicated it was benign.
However, he failed to tell Mr Dorney that the report advised that further surgery was necessary. Dr Lee later admitted that he had skimmed the report and failed to notice the recommendation.
The garda was diagnosed correctly in March last year. He died at 4am yesterday from malignant melanoma at his home in Waterfall, Cork.
Mr Dorney's wife, Pauline, and the couple's three children were "absolutely devastated" by the death of the garda, who had fought his illness with courage and dignity for years.
Tributes were paid last night and senior officers said the force had lost one of its brightest stars.
In Cork, Chief Superintendent Michael Finn said the death of the 30-year garda veteran was a tragedy for Mrs Dorney and her family as well as the entire Garda Siochana.
Superintendent Flor Horan said Mr Dorney was "totally devoted to his wife Pauline and his children, Aisleigh, Niamh and Ciaran -- he was so proud of each one of them. Martin was a true and loyal friend."
Last October, the Irish Medical Council doubled the suspension of Cork GP Dr Lee (45) -- a friend of Supt Dorney -- to six months after he failed to ensure the garda received proper follow-up treatment following the removal of a suspicious leg mole in 2003.
Dr Lee (45) initially attempted to conceal his mistake when Supt Dorney was finally diagnosed with cancer in March 2009.
The GP was unavailable for comment yesterday. Dr Lee previously said he felt personally responsible for the pain and suffering the Dorney family endured.
"I feel a profound sense of anger and shame in myself for having allowed this situation to develop," he said.
"I have caused them pain and I am responsible for the suffering that they are going through," Dr Lee said.
In his last interview about the misdiagnosis, Supt Dorney said that he was "staring down the barrel of a gun."
"It is too late for me but I just hope it is not too late for somebody else," he said. "I am not vindictive or bitter but I am concerned that this situation could reoccur and affect other patients in the devastating way that it has affected me.
"Dr Lee has apologised to me personally and I have accepted his apology," he added.