Monday 28 May 2018

Doctor said he threw my womb in a bucket, mum tells inquiry

Dr. Peter Van Geene arrives at the fitness to practice enquiry at the medical council
Dr. Peter Van Geene arrives at the fitness to practice enquiry at the medical council
Helen Cruise

Sam Griffin

A doctor told a woman he had thrown her womb "into a bucket on the floor" during a hysterectomy, and later angrily shouted "sue me, sue me, sue me" when she asked him about the procedure, a fitness to practise inquiry heard.

Helen Cruise said Peter Van Geene, who is facing allegations of poor professional performance, has "ruined her life" and recalled her terror after the operation that took place in August 2011 in the Aut Even hospital in Co Kilkenny.

In total, Mr Van Geene is facing allegations made by four women, though Ms Cruise is the only patient to have waived her right to anonymity.

Giving evidence on the second day of the inquiry, mother-of-seven Ms Cruise, from the Kilkenny area, said she suffered "horrific" treatment and suffers from chronic pain and incontinence today and uses a walking stick.

The claims will be disputed by Mr Van Geene. Ms Cruise had been a patient at St Luke's hospital in Co Kilkenny and suffered with severe urinary incontinence and a prolapse of the vaginal wall.

She had the procedure in Aut Even through the National Treatment Purchase Fund. She said she signed a consent form before the operation but added she wasn't fully sure what the procedure entailed. She said she never met Mr Van Geene before the operation and was horrified by the way the doctor spoke to her in the operating theatre.

"He said 'I've just thrown it (her womb) into a bucket on the floor'," Ms Cruise told the inquiry. "I thought that's not a nice thing to say. That womb carried all my children. That wasn't a nice remark to make."


She suffered severe adverse effects following the operation and she was subsequently transferred to St Luke's hospital. She said she thought she was going to die.

Mr Van Geene then visited her in St Luke's, where he told her the post-operative bleeding she suffered was because she had coughed during the operation.

"He said 'You did it all yourself. You coughed and you burst it (the stitching) all open'," Ms Cruise claimed.

She went on to say Mr Van Geene "went berserk". "He was like a mad man. He was pacing up and down the room," she told the inquiry and said she advised him to seek anger management.

Later, Ms Cruise's daughter Aneka said he became very aggressive at another meeting around a week later when Ms Cruise asked him to prove she had coughed and caused the ligature to come out.

She claimed he said: "I know where this is going - litigation" and then shouted "Sue me, sue me, sue me" while allegedly hitting her on the hand.

Under cross-examination, Mr Van Geene's legal counsel said his client will say that the operation went as expected and that the nursing records show the post-op problems did not appear until 11pm that night.

He put it to Helen Cruise her remarks about her womb being thrown into a bucket were not true. Ms Cruise refuted this and said the nursing records were "all lies".

The inquiry continues today.

Irish Independent

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