Misdiagnosis report doctor fails in bid to have hearing ruled private
A PATHOLOGIST at the centre of a damning report on cancer misdiagnosis has failed in his attempt to have a medical hearing on professional misconduct charges against him held in private.
Lebanese-born Dr Antoine Geagea (59), who lives in Finland, failed to show up to answer the charges when the Medical Council's Fitness to Practice Committee hearing began in Dublin yesterday.
But he denied any wrongdoing and said the controversy had "catastrophic consequences" for his career -- forcing him to resign as a pathologist.
The hearing follows the case of a Tipperary woman, referred to as patient 'A', whose breast cancer was missed by an unnamed pathologist at University Hospital Galway in September 2005 and by Dr Geagea in March 2007.
The misdiagnosis led to a report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), which found that 50 patients were wrongly analysed in the hospital laboratory -- resulting in an 18-month delay in the diagnosis of patient's 'A's' breast cancer. The pathologist faces two charges of professional misconduct: that he erred in reporting 50 cases identified in the HIQA report and that he erred at a rate that fell below the acceptable error rate.
In its report, the HIQA found Dr Geagea's diagnosis rate of error was 6.5pc -- six times higher than normal. He took up a temporary post as pathologist in Galway in September 2006 before leaving seven months later, shortly after the misdiagnosis finding that a tissue sample from patient 'A' was benign.
Consultant histopathologist Dr Michael Jeffers, who carried out the HIQA investigation, said discrepancies had been found in 50 cases, with false negative results returned in 39.
Dr Geagea's rate of error was deemed to be outside the acceptable range and the report concluded that his diagnostic performance had fallen short of the level expected of someone with his expertise.
While Dr Geagea claimed he was in Helsinki at the time it was claimed he reviewed patient A's case, a senior official at the hospital insisted he had been at work.
The hearing continues today.