Friday 28 October 2016

Mother-of-two left with blurred vision after high-risk procedure carried out without consent

Published 13/04/2015 | 16:27

Cork University Hospital
Cork University Hospital

A mother-of-two with chronic pain which spread from her face to her brain was left with blurred vision after a physician carried out a high-risk procedure without her permission.

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Dr John Charles Marks, a retired consultant neurosurgeon in Cork University Hospital, admitted to 13 separate allegations of poor professional performance, before a fitness-to-practice hearing at the Irish Medical Council.

Dr Marks, who represented himself at the inquiry, said he had "little to defend in this case."

"I did badly," he told the committee.

The allegations arose from his treatment of his patient, Rosalind Shone, in November 2011.

Ms Shone currently lives in Australia with her partner and two young children, having emigrated over two years ago.

In 2010, she began to experience "constant pain" on the left side of her face, which felt like a "heavy weight" being pressed against the side of her head.

It affected her daily life and she sought medical advice.

She was later diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, a disorder which causes extreme, sporadic, sudden burning or shock-like facial pain.

The intensity of pain can be physically and mentally incapacitating.

In November 2011, she was scheduled to receive a Glycerol injection at Cork University Hospital, a procedure in which a thin needle is passed through the cheek, next to the mouth, and guided through the opening in the base of the skull.

Instead, at the theatre reception, she was told that Dr Marks had "changed his mind" and that she was no longer going to have the injection procedure.

The hearing was told Dr Marks failed to tell her that he could not carry out the treatment as planned because there was no Glycerol available in the hospital.

Instead, Dr Marks carried out a trigeminal radiofrequency lesioning procedure without her consent.

He told the 33-year-old he had spoken to a Professor that he had trained under in Bristol, who confirmed that she had trigeminal neuralgia, and in the circumstances it was the best procedure for her.

"He didn't explain the risks or side-effects to her, nor was a written consent obtained from her," the hearing was told

Two months earlier Dr Marks had written to Ms Shone's GP to say she was not a suitable candidate for such a procedure.

Among the allegations found to have been proven against Dr Marks was that he also failed to explain the procedure, and the risks involved.

He also failed to ensure that Ms Shone was kept in hospital overnight for observation.

Before the operation she had been living with "chronic pain" for some 18 months.

In a follow-up consultation with Dr Marks' registrar, Ms Shone was told the prognosis was "bleak", and the damage was "most likely permanent".

She was told it was a "trade-off" for the pain relief.

"I don’t believe I should defend the indefensible” Dr Marks told the hearing.

“I clearly made a succession of errors and mistakes. It’s legally indefensible,” he added.

The 65-year-old, who currently holds a teaching position at University College Cork, said he has no intention of returning to medical practice.

All 13 allegations of poor professional performance against Dr Marks were found to be proven.

The fitness-to-practice inquiry's decision on Dr Marks will now be forwarded to the board of the Medical Council, which will decide what penalty should be imposed upon him.

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