Saturday 20 July 2019

Gynaecologist 'performed exploratory work without the consent of patients' - report

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Callum Lavery

A report has found that a gynaecologist failed to obtain consent for "exploratory work" carried out on patients.

Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG) are currently considering a report which found obstetrician and gynaecologist Professor Ray O’Sullivan, St. Luke's Hospital, Co. Kilkenny had conducted tests on five female patients without their consent.

The test was carried out on five women seen as regular patients in the hospital. It involved flushing the vaginas of the women with water, before inserting a miniature scope for monitoring, and measuring the pressure within the vagina.

The test performed would have reduced the need for the doctor to use a speculum, a tool used by doctors to investigate bodily orifices and known for being uncomfortable.

However, the women had no idea an experimental procedure was to be carried out as part of the examination they required. The test was carried out by younger members of staff.

When contacted by Independent.ie, Prof O'Sullivan said his solicitor advised him not to comment, but added;

"It's an unusual coincidence that my comments regarding the HSE and under resourcing of the termination services in Ireland time precisely with the leak of the ‘consent’ story. I would never harm one of my patients but maybe unusual coincidences do happen."

Prof O'Sullivan has previously been part of a group of four consultant obstetricians in St. Luke's who opposed termination services in the hospital.

After hearing about the tests, the hospital informed the patients involved and commissioned a report from Prof Peter Doran, a scientist at UCD’s School of Medicine.

However they said they have only just received the report last week.

A spokesperson for the IEHG said they are still considering the report and are expecting to come to a conclusion next month.

"I can confirm that a Systems Analysis Review at St Luke’s Hospital Carlow/Kilkenny into this matter was commissioned by the CEO of the Ireland East Hospital Group, the report of which was received by her late last week. 

"The CEO is currently considering the content of the report which will be shared with patients and appropriate parties in accordance with due process.

"We expect that this process will conclude within the next month."

The hospital believes Prof O'Sullivan should have obtained consent, have sought his suspension and have reported the incidents to the Medical Council of Ireland (MCoI).

The MCoI said they were unable to comment on individual cases but said they will follow their standard complaints process.

"In relation to the complaints process, the Medical Council handles complaints relating to an individual doctor's fitness to practise medicine," said a MCoI spokesperson.

"The Council can take action where it is believed that a doctor has serious failings in his/her practice. The Medical Council acts in the public interest, and can impose restrictions on a doctor’s registration, which would restrict or remove their right to practise medicine in Ireland.

"Anyone can make a complaint about a doctor who is registered in Ireland. This includes members of the public, employers and other healthcare professionals.  The Medical Council follows a strict legal process to investigate complaints.

"Regarding protocols around consent, guidelines are contained in the Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Professionals, Eighth Edition."

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