Monday 18 December 2017

Surgeon and hospital rapped over botched op on toddler

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

ONE of the country's top children's hospitals has been sharply criticised after the wrong operation was carried out on the mouth of a two-year-old patient.

Paediatric consultant Martin Corbally was found guilty of three counts of poor professional performance over the blunder at Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin, Dublin.

But a Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry also found "significant evidence of systems failure, weaknesses and errors in surgical procedures" at the hospital.

Prof Corbally was previously at the centre of controversy after a six-year-old boy under his care had the wrong kidney removed in Crumlin in 2008.

He subsequently appeared, along with the operating surgeon, before the Medical Council, but no findings were made against either surgeon.

Committee chairman Gerry Bury said the inquiry team had "real concern" over systems issues at the hospital and it would be requesting the Medical Council pursue the matter.

Among the problems highlighted were:

• An inadequate surgical booking and coding system.

• A lack of implementation of the hospital's own correct site surgery policy.

• A failure to put in place a surgical pause -- where all the theatre staff stop briefly to check that everything, including the consent form, is correct prior to operating.

• A weakness in clinical leadership.

Prof Bury said it was unclear if there had been a "complete review" of the entire coding system at the hospital. The hospital last night apologised to the girl and her family for the "error and for the distress and upset" it had caused.

In a statement, it said it had reviewed and implemented improvements in its practices. "As a result, the booking and coding process for this surgical procedure has been improved to remove any ambiguity," it said.

The committee found Prof Corbally failed to apply the appropriate standards of clinical judgment for a surgeon of his expertise and had incorrectly described the procedure required in the patient's medical records.


It also found he had failed to communicate adequately when he delegated the operation on the girl to his fourth-year surgical registrar, Farhan Tareen.

Allegations against Dr Tareen were withdrawn at the inquiry.

A decision on any sanction will be made by the Medical Council at a later date.

Under legislation, the sanctions vary from the relatively mild option of admonishment, up to the cancellation of a doctor's registration. Prof Corbally had denied all allegations of poor professional performance. He had booked an operation for the girl known as 'Baby X' on April 30, 2010, after her parents brought her to his private clinic on February 25, 2010.

Instead of having the skin inside her upper lip cut, the skin underneath her tongue was sliced instead -- meaning she faced more painful surgery on the same day.

Prof Corbally said he was disappointed at the Medical Council's decision.

"I have always endeavoured to do my best for my patients, their parents and the staff working alongside me. I will continue to do so. It is regrettable that trusted hospital systems failed to ensure a safe procedure but I am happy to note that Baby X has made a full and complete recovery and that the surgery I performed led to a successful outcome," he said.

Irish Independent

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