Friday 15 December 2017

Blind man died days after house call, hearing told

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

A DOCTOR has denied allegations of failing to adequately examine or investigate a sick elderly blind man during a house call just two days before he died.

Dr Anthony Enobo Akpekpe (52), who was working for locum service Doctors on Duty in Dublin when he paid a visit to Patrick Lowe (74) in Monkstown, appeared before the fitness-to-practise committee of the Medical Council yesterday on allegations of poor professional performance.

"My brother was no less a person because of his disabilities, he deserved to be treated with respect. He wasn't," his sister and carer, Elizabeth said.

Mr Lowe, who had epilepsy since childhood, had been left blind, with brain damage and poor balance since a fall in the UK in 1999.

Ms Lowe made a complaint to the council in relation to Dr Akpekpe's house call to her brother on Monday, September 13, 2010 after a bout of vomiting and stomach cramps -- he was pronounced dead by ambulance staff at her home on Wednesday, September 15, 2010.

The Co Laois-resident GP, who qualified in Nigeria, faced six allegations before the committee including providing the Medical Council with a different record to that provided to Mr Lowe's regular GP, Dr Donald Brookes.

He also denied the allegation of failing to adequately identify himself by not confirming his full name and writing a prescription and record that did not contain his Medical Council registration number.

The committee heard a diagnosis of a tummy bug was made on the Monday.


A post-mortem found Mr Lowe had died two days later from inhaling faecal matter as a result of an acute blockage of the small bowel caused by a hernia.

Ms Lowe phoned for her brother's regular GP on Monday, September 13, 2010 but he was away. She told the committee after asking the doctor who called his name she was told in a "somewhat dismissive tone" that it was just "Dr John".

Ms Lowe said she provided an account of her brother's medical history. She stated the doctor did not speak to her brother and did not examine his stomach area. She said the doctor looked at her brother and asked did he have a "hernia". That was the only mention of a hernia, she said.

Ms Lowe said his stomach was distended, describing it as similar to being "a few months heavily pregnant". A diagnosis of a tummy bug was made and a prescription given.

Ms Lowe said the doctor made a comment as he was leaving that if he was not "fully better" to contact a doctor or bring him to hospital.

An expert called on behalf of the council, Dr Peter Wahlrab, said a swollen stomach would not be a typical symptom in a person with tummy bug and a bowel obstruction should have been on the radar for the doctor.

Ross Maguire, for Dr Akpekpe, stated the doctor did not introduce himself as "Dr John" and that he did investigate the abdomen. He found no abnormalities, it was mildly distended, soft with no tenderness, no visible swelling to indicate a hernia and concluded it was a tummy bug.

Dr Wahlrab said it was much more likely it would be "hard" to the touch.

The doctor will give evidence when the committee resumes next Wednesday.

Irish Independent

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