Saturday 17 March 2018

Doctor refused to treat child after mum couldn't pay

Fergus Black

A DOCTOR who denied he refused to treat a young child because her mother did not have the €40 consultation fee, has been found guilty of professional misconduct.

Dr Jerry Nasstrom had rejected allegations that he had refused to treat the child and said his policy was to treat patients regardless of whether they had money to pay the consultation fee.

But a Medical Council fitness-to-practise committee found him guilty of one count of professional misconduct for refusing or failing to treat the then one-and-a-half year old girl at his surgery at Coolock Health Centre in north Dublin on January 24, 2012.

Following a day-long hearing, committee chairman Brendan Broderick said the committee was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the Swedish-born GP's failure to treat the child constituted conduct that had "seriously fallen short" of what was expected of doctors.

Three other allegations which included a claim that he had acted in a rude or derogatory manner to the child's mother and father were deemed unproven.

The committee will forward its recommendation to the full Medical Council as to what sanction to impose.


The child's mother, who had brought her daughter to the doctor's surgery with a lump on her neck "the size of a golf ball", had claimed the doctor had put her child's "life on the line" because she didn't have the €40 fee.

She later brought the child to Temple Street Children's Hospital where she was treated for an abscess on her neck.

The woman, who described herself as a lone parent, said that after explaining about her daughter the doctor asked her if she had a medical card and she told him she had sent away for one.

"He came back out and told me he couldn't find it (the card). I asked him to take a look at my daughter and he told me it would cost €40."

"He clearly wasn't happy to see her. If that was the case he shouldn't have let me walk out of the health centre that day. He turned my child away and put her life on the line," she said.

In evidence Dr Nasstrom said many of his patients were in financial difficulty and they did not refuse to treat patients for want of payment and he had never refused to treat a patient.

He remembered telling the woman that her medical card was invalid – and she said she would fetch some money and left but didn't come back.

He denied he had refused to treat the child and claimed the mother gave "no information whatsoever" about her.

"My understanding was she walked out to get money and would return and I was very surprised when she didn't come back," Dr Nasstrom said.

He denied the reason he did not treat the child was because of the absence of a medical card or the non-payment of a €40 fee.

"She didn't obtain treatment because she didn't come back," he said. "I didn't refuse to treat her (the child)."

Irish Independent

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