Blackrock Clinic secretary was sacked after forgery allegations
A MEDICAL secretary was sacked from her job in an exclusive hospital after allegedly forging patient records for insurance claims.
Consultant cardiologist David Keane from Blackrock Clinic in Dublin claimed Patricia Derbyshire-Carr altered a referral letter to ensure a patient's treatment was covered by his medical insurance.
Prof Keane told an Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) that his secretary's actions had "enormous implications" for both patient safety and the reputation of his practice.
The doctor said it was "wilful alteration and falsification of medical records to ensure that a patient would receive entitlement to insurance which he was quite clearly ineligible for".
"This was not an isolated case, there were multiple cases," he added.
The secretary – who was earning a €40,000 salary at the time – admitted she edited the medical history when questioned by her employer.
But she claimed the document was changed because she believed it was incorrectly transcribed by a company based in the Philippines.
The tribunal heard the secretary removed a history of duodenitis (an inflammation of the small intestine) from a patient's record and replaced it with a diagnosis of peptic ulcer disease.
She is also alleged to have altered the patient's history of heart palpitations, which Prof Keane said could influence insurance company compensation.
"I think it was kind of shocking and more than surprising," he said. "It clearly suggests there is some negative thinking and a lack of honesty and a lack of integrity."
Audio files of letters dictated by Mr Keane were transcribed by Philippines-based company, UScribe, the tribunal was told.
The transcripts were then returned to Blackrock Clinic where Ms Derbyshire-Carr was charged with formatting the text into letters before posting them to patients. She was not permitted to change the contents of the letters without consulting with her employer.
The consultant admitted he did not review the letters once they were returned to his office – unless elements of his dictation were questioned by the company.
Ms Derbyshire-Carr's counsel, Michael O'Neill, said the doctor's transcription system was "designed to fail".
The doctor said the same system was used by consultants working in St Vincent's Hospital and St James's Hospital in Dublin.
Prof Keane's wife Sharon, who is also his practice manager, told the tribunal Ms Derbyshire-Carr learned her job "extremely quickly" and was an excellent employee.
Ms Keane said patients often asked to have medical history removed from their records because they had not informed their insurance companies. However, she told the EAT it was policy to always refuse such requests.
The hearing resumes today and Ms Derbyshire-Carr is due to give evidence.