Secretary: I don't know why I altered clinic records
A MEDICAL secretary who was sacked from her job in a health clinic after allegedly forging patient records for insurance claims, said she has no idea why she altered some documents.
Consultant cardiologist Prof David Keane from the Blackrock Clinic in south Dublin claimed Patricia Derbyshire-Carr (53), altered a referral letter in October to ensure a patient's treatment was covered by his medical insurance.
But testifying on her own behalf in her unfair dismissal claim against the private hospital yesterday, Ms Derbyshire-Carr told the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) that she can't explain why she deleted Prof Keane's medical notes in a letter to a health insurer that referred to a patient's 20-year history of irregular heartbeats or heart palpitations.
"I have no real reason for taking it out," she told the tribunal.
"In this situation I edited it and editing is what I did."
She also admitted to removing a reference to the patient's history of duodenitis, or inflammation of the small intestine, in his records and replacing it with a diagnosis of peptic ulcer disease.
She told the hearing she did so because she didn't "recognise the spelling of the word" and thought it was a translation error from a transcription service based in the Philippines.
Prof Keane has testified that the alleged "wilful alteration and falsification of medical records (was) to ensure that a patient would receive entitlement to insurance which he was quite clearly ineligible for."
But Ms Derbyshire-Carr said she had no motive to do so and her counsel Michael O'Neill reiterated that she stood nothing to gain by doing so.
But Des Ryan, counsel for Prof Keane, suggested that Ms Derbyshire-Carr did so for reasons of personal "empowerment".
She denied his claims.
She told the tribunal that she took her job very seriously and that drafting medical letters that were dictated to her by Prof Keane was "more than copying and pasting."
However, she said she had to edit Prof Keane's letters because he was "a rambler" and some letters "rambled on for five pages".
She was suspended for seven months with pay following an investigation into the incident.
She was ultimately dismissed for gross misconduct after working for the practice for four years at an initial salary of €47,000 that was reduced to €40,000 due to staff paycuts. She appealed the decision.
However, independent human resources consultant Ian McGowan Smyth, who interviewed the claimant during the appeal process, said he found that Ms Darbyshire-Carr's dismissal was warranted.
The hearing concluded yesterday and a decision is forthcoming.