Saturday 24 March 2018

Doctor accused of failing two women faces 10 allegations in medical inquiry

Kevin Keane

A consultant obstetrician, who is alleged to have failed to take action to safeguard the health of two separate women, has appeared before a Medical Council inquiry.

Dr Patrick (Gerry) Rafferty faces a total of 10 allegations of professional misconduct in relation to treatment he provided at Mount Carmel private hospital, Dublin 14, and at his nearby consulting rooms in the Landscape Clinic, Churchtown.

A fitness-to-practise inquiry has heard how one of the women, Michelle Howe, collapsed and was rushed to hospital where it was discovered she had an ectopic pregnancy, a sometimes fatal condition where the embryo grows outside of the womb.

It is alleged that Dr Rafferty failed to diagnose this condition, despite clinical evidence, and that he failed make adequate arrangements for the admission of then 35-year-old mother of one to hospital.

The other patient, Cathy Coyle, told the inquiry that she will have to live with the total and irreparable loss of function of one of her kidneys for the rest of her life because signs of its misfunction were not acted upon.

Dr Rafferty is contesting the allegations but has admitted to the facts of one allegation, namely that he failed to refer Ms Coyle to a urologist following tests which showed her kidneys were not functioning properly.


He performed a hysterectomy on the then 56-year-old in July 2007 and is alleged to have failed to ensure that follow-up examinations took place to monitor her kidney function.

One year after the operation she was told by a consultant in St James's Hospital that her left kidney had ceased functioning and would never work again.

During yesterday's hearing, solicitor for the CEO of the Medical Council, JP McDowell, told the inquiry that Ms Howe was a mother of one and in the early stages of pregnancy when she met Dr Rafferty in the Landscape Clinic on June 4, 2008.

Mr McDowell said Ms Howe will tell the inquiry that following an ultrasound, Dr Rafferty told her and her husband that the scan showed her to have a non-continuing (miscarrying) pregnancy.

After feeling unwell and undergoing a second blood test, Ms Howe spoke to Dr Rafferty on the phone and was told that he still believed she had a non-continuing pregnancy.

The inquiry heard that Ms Howe will say that when she asked about her raised hormone levels, Dr Rafferty replied that he didn't think she had an ectopic pregnancy.

The next day, Ms Howe was rushed to Mount Carmel hospital after falling ill, the inquiry was told. Upon examination it was discovered that Ms Howe's pregnancy was ectopic.

She underwent a salpingectomy, a procedure which involves the removal of a fallopian tube containing the embryo.

She also required a blood transfusion.

The inquiry, which is scheduled to last for three days, is due to hear evidence from Ms Howe when it resumes today.

Irish Independent

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