Tuesday 21 November 2017

Scan showed up 'possible' pregnancy, inquiry told

Laura Esmonde, who was allegedly wrongly diagnosed, at the Medical Council, Kingram House, Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Laura Esmonde, who was allegedly wrongly diagnosed, at the Medical Council, Kingram House, Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Alan O'Keeffe

A Medical Council inquiry into a claim that a woman received a wrong diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy heard that a scan later revealed a "possible" pregnancy in the womb.

Mother-of-three Laura Esmonde (38), from near Tipperary town, was allegedly wrongly diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy by a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel on January 6, 2013.

As a result, she was informed of the serious health risk posed by the unviable pregnancy outside the womb.

The inquiry heard Ms Esmonde was advised to take the drug methotrexate, which stops cells growing.

She was given two doses of the drug within a fortnight, and it was stated that she had a reported miscarriage on February 2.

Dr Siobhan Corcoran, who was a specialist obstetrics registrar at Cork University Hospital in 2013, said in a statement read to the inquiry yesterday that she performed a scan on Ms Esmonde in Cork on January 26, 2013.

She said this showed the "possible" presence of an intrauterine gestational sac, which would mean a pregnancy in the womb, or else the presence of a "pseudo sac". Dr Corcoran said she saw only a gestational sac and estimated the pregnancy at three to four weeks.

She also detected "a mass" on the right-hand side of Ms Esmonde's pelvis and noted there was a query in the medical notes as to whether this was part of, or separate from, the right ovary.

The consultant who was alleged to have made a mis- diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy in the Clonmel hospital was referred to only as Doctor A in the inquiry proceedings.

Ms Esmonde had been admitted to Clonmel suffering pain from a blood clot in the leg.

While at the hospital, she was told she was pregnant, but that it appeared to be an ectopic pregnancy.

Maria Carrigan, a midwife and staff nurse at the hospital, said she took notes based on what Doctor A stated after a scan on January 8. He said the uterus was empty and it was "a probable" ectopic pregnancy.

It was the third day of the hearing before the Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Committee.


It is claimed that Doctor A misinterpreted Ms Esmonde's ultrasound scans as indicating there was an ectopic pregnancy while ruling out a normal pregnancy in the womb.

He allegedly failed to consider her rising hormone levels, and failed to reconsider his earlier diagnosis and to recommend conservative management of the patient. It is also claimed that he directed administration of methotrexate where he was not entitled to exclude a viable pregnancy.

Ms Esmonde has told the inquiry that Doctor A gave her three options: surgery, medical management using drugs, or letting the pregnancy end naturally.

She said he advised against surgery and warned her that if no action was taken she could die if there was a rupture. She opted for the drug.

The inquiry continues today.

Irish Independent

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