The fitness to practice inquiry into a gynaecologist who clipped a woman’s fallopian tubes allegedly without the proper consent has concluded at the Medical Council.
Dr Declan Egan, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist who retired from University Hospital Galway earlier this year, is facing an allegation of poor professional performance.
He accepts he clipped both left and right tubes, despite consent having only been granted in the case of one, but previously told the inquiry he did so for “ethical reasons” and rejects the allegation.
Dr Egan was performing the operation on patient Lorna McKeogh (36) in June 2010. Ms McKeogh had been referred to him after suffering a number of miscarriages. She had a hydrosalpinx (a collection of fluid) in her right-hand tube.
During the procedure Dr Egan discovered both Fallopian tubes were affected, rather than just one as suspected, and this had left him with "a dilemma".
Dr Egan’s defence was that he believed the consent form "covered" him to clip both tubes and claimed he carried out the procedure in her "best interests", in a bid to improve her chances of getting pregnant through IVF.
He believed she would not be able to get pregnant other than through IVF and explained that clipping the tubes improved her chances of becoming pregnant in this way.
Concluding his submission today, JP McDowell, representing the Medical Council CEO, said none of the expert witnesses who had given evidence in the case “said they would have done what Dr Egan did”.
He also said that Dr Egan had failed to consult with the patient about the consequences of cutting both tubes and said this had “rendered the patient sterile”.
“This was a major additional procedure which had enormous ramifications for the patient,” he said.
Representing Dr Egan, Ms Eileen Barrington said that terminology was “unduly emotive and not correctly characterising what had happened in this case”.
She said there had been a “blurring of issues and law in this case” and that her client acted after interpreting a clause where a practitioner could undertake additional procedures where they felt it was necessary.
Ms Barrington told the Medical Council that doctors do not operate in the same way lawyers do.
“They’re not ringing up their solicitors in the middle of surgery,” she said. “It’s an unfair approach to expect of medical practitioners,” she said.
The Medical Council committee adjourned to consider its verdict and may issue a finding this afternoon.