Wednesday 28 June 2017

Overwork is the main cause of doctor error

Our problem is a severe shortage of specialists, writes John Crown

Medical errors have recently re-entered the public domain. The tragic case of the child in Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin who had a healthy kidney removed by accident has caused understandable concern.

It is widely recognised that medical error is common in Ireland, and unsurprisingly our country has one of the highest rates of medical malpractice lawsuits in the world. Why is this? Are Irish doctors inferior to those found in other jurisdictions? I will let others judge that, but I do know that the calibre of the young professionals who apply for our specialist posts is, in general, far superior to that which is seen in other countries.

The surgeon involved in the Crumlin tragedy is widely respected and highly reputed for his skill, compassion and responsibility. I have sent my own children as patients to him, and would do so again. He is an excellent, dedicated doctor who made a terrible mistake, with terrible consequences for a young patient.

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