Sunday 21 January 2018

Doctor told woman he threw her womb 'into a bucket on the floor' after hysterectomy, fitness to practice inquiry hears

Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Peter Van Geene at the The Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry at Kingram House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Peter Van Geene at the The Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry at Kingram House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Sam Griffin

A DOCTOR allegedly told a woman he had thrown her womb "into a bucket on the floor" after a hysterectomy in a private hospital in Co Kilkenny and then angrily struck her on the hands and knees when she confronted him about the procedure, a Medical Council fitness to practice inquiry has heard.

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

Giving harrowing evidence in the second day of the inquiry into the allegations, Ms Cruise said she suffered “horrific” treatment by Mr Van Geene who she said she never even met before her operation.

The claims will be disputed by Mr Van Geene who is expected to give evidence later in the week.

Ms Cruise had been a patient at St Luke’s hospital in Co Kilkenny, suffering with severe urinary incontinence, and placed on a waiting list for the procedure.

But through the National Treatment Purchase Fund, she was told she could have the procedure in Aut Even.

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 was horrified by the way the doctor spoke to her after the hysterectomy.

“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 and was delirious.

“I thought I was in Russia. I thought everyone was trying to poison me,” she said.

She said that Mr Van Geene then visited her in St Luke’s where he told her the post operation bleeding she suffered was because she had coughed during the operation.

“He said ‘you did it all yourself. You coughed and you burst it (stitching) all open.

She went on to say Mr Van Geene “went berserk” and slapped her on the hands and knees.

“He was like a mad man. He was pacing up and down the room,” she told the inquiry.

She explained she still suffers with incontinence today and has pain in her groin and legs among other medical problems.

Under cross-examination, Mr Van Geene’s legal counsel Eugene Gleeson said his client will say that the operation went as expected. He put it to Ms Cruise her remarks about her womb being thrown into a bucket were not true. Ms Cruise refuted this.

Mr Gleeson said the nursing records from Aut Even hospital showed that Ms Cruise was in a “comfortable” position for a time after the procedure and it was not until 11pm that she got into distress.

He put it to Ms Cruise that because she has been a smoker for many years, she may have coughed which could have resulted in stitches being dislodged.

Ms Cruise said she could not remember all the events due to her being under anaesthetic and because they occurred four years ago, but said she didn’t cough.

The inquiry is continuing.

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