Monday 18 December 2017

Inquiry hears of major blood loss by three women

Peter Van Geene
Peter Van Geene

Sam Griffin

An "exceptional" amount of blood was lost by three patients after undergoing hysterectomies by the s me surgeon, an expert witness has told a Medical Council fitness to practise inquiry.

Dr Peter McKenna said the chances of the three women suffering such high levels of blood loss after operations by the same doctor were less than 1pc. He added that in the case of two patients they "ought to have been told" that the procedure would do nothing to help them.

Dr McKenna, the former master at the Rotunda Hospital, was giving evidence on the sixth day of the inquiry into allegations made by four former patients against gynaecologist Peter Van Geene.

The allegations relate to hysterectomies that he performed between 2009 and 2011 in the Aut Even private hospital in Kilkenny.

Dr McKenna said the "one unifying feature in all the complaints" was that each of the women had undergone surgeries and that Mr Van Geene should have stopped performing the operation.

"Either you're not choosing your patients correctly and if you are, you're not executing the procedures properly," he said.

Two patients required six units of blood after their operations and another received four units. Dr McKenna said these were "very substantial episodes of blood loss, which warrant explanation and close looking at".


He said: "That degree of blood loss would be exceptional in one case, let alone three.

"I think the system in most of the maternity hospitals would certainly pick up on this pattern at an earlier stage."

In the case of patient Helen Cruise, who has waived her anonymity, he said the principal complaint that she presented with was urinary incontinence and a "hysterectomy was not designed to correct that".

He said he had "lots of complaints" with the treatment plan that was drawn up by Dr Ray O'Sullivan, a consultant in St Luke's Hospital.

When asked if it was not a reasonable plan to draw as the patient was in discomfort, he said: "I don't think it's reasonable at all because that's not what the woman came in worried about."

It is alleged that Mr Van Geene failed to assess Ms Cruise pre-operatively or to explain to her the risks of the operation. Dr McKenna said the patient should have been told by Mr Van Geene: "The procedure I'm going to do won't make you feel any better. Is that okay?"

He added there was no justification for performing major surgery when this couldn't solve the problem and said unless this was explained to the patient, her consent to undergo the hysterectomy was "invalid".

Eugene Gleeson, for Mr Van Geene, said he would be calling expert witness Dr Peter Boylan, former master of the National Maternity Hospital, who would defend the approach taken by Mr Van Geene in the case of Patient A. The inquiry will resume in September.

Irish Independent

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