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Thursday 2 October 2014

Sligo doctor admits to falsifying blood results

Published 04/12/2012 | 11:56

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A SLIGO doctor who admitted falsifying blood test results and refusing to attend a patient during the night because he was preparing for an ironman triathlon has been censured by the Medical Council.

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Dr John Stewart McKenna (28) from Ballincar, County Sligo and who competed for Sligo Triathlon Club, faced five allegations of professional misconduct and or poor professional performance at a Medical Council fitness-to-practice committee. He worked at St Michael's Hospital in Dún Laoghaire at the time of the incidents between January and April 2011 and his employment was terminated after an investigation.

On his refusal to attend a patient who had fallen out of bed at 12.45am on January 30th last year, he told the hospital he was a "high-level athlete" and preparing for an Ironman triathlon at the time.

When the nurse explained the patient had to be reviewed, he said "I don't care", and when her condition was explained, he said "I don't care" a second time.

Ms Marguerite Bolger B.L. told the inquiry her client's attitude was less than satisfactory.

"At the time he was engaged in very, very high levels of training as an elite athlete.

"He described it as being one of his two passions in life.

"After it happened he realised that there was only room in his life for one of those passions and he has turned his back on his athletic career."

Dr McKenna consented to being censured by the Medical Council and to give an undertaking never to repeat the behaviour.

He admitted to falsifying the results of a blood test for a patient he was referring to the hospital's Warfarin clinic.

He believed the "tactical falsification" of test results was common.

Dr McKenna said he didn't enjoy his job at the time, "you do a lot of secretarial work and a lot of nursing work, you don't really feel like a doctor.

"In hindsight it was a job I wasn't suited to, you're not supposed to be grumpy all the time."

Being brought before the Medical Council was the single worst thing that's ever happened in his life.

"It's been very difficult for me and for my family, my parents especially have had to live through the embarrassment of the whole thing."

Dr McKenna said he was willing to do anything necessary to continue with his career.

He was now specialising in paediatric emergency medicine in Sligo.

"I enjoy the work, I think I am pretty efficient, I get on with the doctors, nurses and patients' parents."

Ms Bolger said her client was determined to become a better doctor.

"Dr McKenna, for all his hysteric bravado, for his poor attitude, for his appalling interpersonal skills, has learned a huge amount from this process."

The hearing also heard that on March 19th, Dr McKenna refused to "re-chart" the drugs required by a patient, telling the nurse it was "a waste of time and paper" and he was refusing as "a matter of principle." He did later re-chart the drugs. On April 1st, Dr McKenna prescribed an excessive dosage of morphine.

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