Saturday 24 February 2018

Consultant admits his 'indefensible' errors after high-risk op

Dr. John Charles Marks who appeared before the medical council yesterday. Photo: Damien Eagers
Dr. John Charles Marks who appeared before the medical council yesterday. Photo: Damien Eagers
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

A mother-of-two with chronic pain which spread from her face to her brain was left with blurred vision after a physician carried out a high-risk procedure without her permission.

Dr John Charles Marks, a retired consultant neurosurgeon in Cork University Hospital, admitted to 13 separate allegations of poor professional performance, before a fitness-to-practise hearing.

Dr Marks, who represented himself, said he had "little to defend in this case". It arose from his treatment of Rosalind Shone in November 2011.

In 2010, she began to experience pain on the left of her face. She was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, which causes extreme shock-like pain.

In November 2011, she was scheduled to receive a Glycerol injection at Cork University Hospital. Instead, at the theatre reception, she was told that Dr Marks had "changed his mind".

The hearing was told Dr Marks failed to tell her he could not carry out the treatment because there was no Glycerol available in the hospital.

Instead, he carried out a trigeminal radiofrequency lesioning procedure without her consent.

"He didn't explain the risks or side-effects to her, nor was a written consent obtained from her," the hearing was told.

Afterwards her left eye became "very sore", and her vision was "blurry and began to deteriorate", the committee heard

In a follow-up consultation with Dr Marks's registrar, Ms Shone was told the damage was "most likely permanent".

She was told it was a "trade-off" for the pain relief.

Dr Marks told the hearing: "I clearly made a succession of errors and mistakes. It's legally indefensible."

All 13 allegations of poor professional performance were found to be proved. The fitness-to-practise inquiry's decision will now be forwarded to the board of the Medical Council, to decide what penalty should be imposed on him.

The 65-year-old, currently at a teaching position at University College Cork, said he had no intention of returning to medical practice.


Dr John Charles Marks was involved in another inquest in 2011 into the case of a Cork GP who died after surgery for a brain haemorrhage. Dr Marks said he was "probably wrong" in the form of surgery he performed on her.

Dr Niamh Long, a mother-of-three, was operated on by Dr Marks in January 2011.

He attempted to place a clip on an aneurysm but cut an artery. He attempted to repair the damage but was unsuccessful.

He told the inquest that his decision to try the clip was "probably wrong" and he was sorry not to have pursued an alternative course of action.

Frantic efforts were made to repair the bleeding but they were unsuccessful and Dr Long died three days later. The inquest jury returned a verdict of death by medical misadventure.

After the verdict, Dr Long's husband Eoin described her as a wonderful wife and mother.

Irish Independent

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