Surgeon whose patient died after op guilty of poor performance
Published 07/12/2012 | 05:00
THE family of a woman who died just days after a routine bladder procedure have welcomed a ruling that found her surgeon guilty of poor professional performance.
Thomas (Ted) McDermott, a consultant urologist, was found guilty on nine counts of poor professional performance in relation to the death of Mary Walsh of Firhouse in Dublin.
Ms Walsh (56) died on December 8, 2008, at Tallaght hospital, three days after Mr McDermott carried out a cystoscopy – a procedure in which a scope is used to examine the bladder – on her at Mount Carmel private hospital in Dublin.
Ms Walsh's family yesterday expressed their relief that the full circumstances of the case emerged following the ruling by the fitness to practise committee of the Medical Council.
"It's taken four years for the truth to come out about what happened to Mary," said her sister Carmel Walsh.
"Today Ted McDermott was found guilty of all nine charges of poor professional performance but that won't bring our sister back."
Ms Walsh sustained a cut to her bladder – known as an intraperitoneal perforation – which caused urine to leak internally in to her abdomen, leading to fatal septic shock.
Mr McDermott was found guilty of poor professional performance for failing to arrange for timely surgical intervention to relieve the perforation and for failing to transfer his patient to Tallaght Hospital within a reasonable timeframe.
Among the other seven grounds on which Mr McDermott was found guilty were that he failed to apply the standards of care and clinical judgment that could reasonably be expected from a consultant urologist, that he failed to arrange for appropriate investigations before Ms Walsh's procedure to determine whether she was suffering from a urinary tract infection, and that he failed to respond to indicators of Ms Walsh's deteriorating condition.
The inquiry heard that following a cystoscopy carried out by Mr McDermott, which involves filling a patient's bladder with liquid in order to stretch it, Ms Walsh returned home but was readmitted to Mount Carmel hospital the same evening in severe pain.
She was seen by Mr McDermott at 3am and again at 8.30am just before he left on a trip to Manchester.
Shortly before boarding his plane, Mr McDermott was told by telephone that Ms Walsh's condition had deteriorated and that she had been brought to the high dependency unit.
He was told later his patient's white blood count had dropped considerably. An expert witness told the inquiry that "alarm bells" should have been ringing but Ms Walsh remained in Mount Carmel until a doctor who had just come on duty ordered her to be transferred to Tallaght Hospital, where she died two days later.
The Medical Council will now decide what sanction to impose on Mr McDermott.