Wednesday 13 November 2019

'Doctor sterilised me without asking for my consent'

Dr Declan Egan leaves a fitness to practice inquiry at the medical council in Dublin. Picture: Damien Eagers
Dr Declan Egan leaves a fitness to practice inquiry at the medical council in Dublin. Picture: Damien Eagers

Kevin Keane

A woman told how she woke up from an operation to discover that both her fallopian tubes had been "clipped" without her consent.

A Medical Council fitness to practice inquiry heard that consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Declan Egan told her: "What did you want me to do, stitch it back up, wake you up and ask for your permission?"

Dr Egan, of Dangan, Co Galway faces one allegation of poor professional performance in relation to the procedure he carried out on Lorna McKeogh.

Mrs McKeogh was 32 at the time, in June 2010, at University College Hospital Galway.

Dr Egan denies the allegation against him, and his barrister has told the inquiry that her client apologises for his bedside manner. She said Dr Egan believed this was the best course of treatment for Mrs McKeogh.

Mrs McKeogh said she was referred for a laparoscopy after she had endured a number of miscarriages. It had been discovered that she had a hydrosalpinx (a collection of fluid) in her right-hand tube. She was told the tube may have to be clipped to allow her to bring an embryo to full term.

She first met Dr Egan just before going under anaesthetic in to the operating theatre in University College Hospital, Galway on June 2, 2010.

When she awoke Dr Egan told her that it "wasn't just the right (fallopian) tube" and that he had clipped both tubes.

Mrs McKeogh said: "When I asked why, he asked me did I want to continue miscarrying?

"He said to me: 'What did you want me to do, stitch it back up, wake you up and ask for your permission?' He said to me he was the doctor, and he made the correct decision for me.

"To sterilise a 32-year-old girl without her consent, with my husband only 10 feet away - I would like to think my husband would have been consulted.

"I will never forget, the bedside manner was horrendous."

Under examination from JP McDowell, who is taking the case against Dr Egan on behalf of the CEO of the Medical Council, Mrs McKeogh said she wanted to be given the chance to decide about the procedure.

"We could have got an investigation done ... I might have agreed then, but it's different when you go in for surgery.

"We put all our hopes and dreams knowing we would have two months recovery and then (try to) start a family, we weren't in a position financially to go for IVF," she said.

Mrs McKeogh said Dr Egan told her that he would be in touch at a later date with a view to getting her pregnant by IVF.

Literature from his private fertility clinic was sent to her, two days after her father died.

"I was so mad, after what had happened, it wasn't even a free invitation, it was €150 to be advised about IVF. I couldn't believe I was made infertile."

Barrister for Dr Egan, Eileen Barrington said her client denies the allegation against him and that the clipping was necessary because of the presence of a hydrosalpinx in both fallopian tubes.

Treatment

In a letter to Mrs McKeogh's solicitor which was read out to the inquiry, Dr Egan stated that had he not clipped the right tube, his patient would have needed a third laparoscopy, which has a high mortality and morbidity rate. He stated: "I hope that Mrs McKeogh can appreciate that I clipped her tubes in good faith."

Ms McKeogh told how after the clipping of her tubes, she and her husband Daragh embarked on expensive IVF treatment for which they had to borrow money.

Mrs McKeogh said as part of IVF treatment in 2014 she was booked in for a D&C procedure, but was told after a laparoscopy that there was nothing wrong with her fallopian tube.

She described the events of 2010 as a nightmare. "We never thought we would have to go down that route of IVF."

The hearing continues today.

Irish Independent

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