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I'd have gouged my eye out to stop pain, says tumour patient

A PATIENT who was in so much pain he felt "he would gouge his own eye out" in a bid to stop it, has accused his consultant of mismanaging his pain relief.

Seven allegations of professional misconduct have been brought against Dr Dympna Waldron, a consultant in palliative medicine at University College Hospital Galway (UCHG).

The consultant was brought before an Irish Medical Council (IMC) Fitness to Practise hearing into the matter yesterday.

The patient, Paul Clarke, of Kilkelly, Co Mayo, was admitted to UCHG on April 27, 2007, suffering from acute pain in his head and eyeball as a result of a benign tumour in his brain.

He had been transferred from Mayo General Hospital and the purpose of his admission was pain management.

Mr Clarke was discharged on May 4, 2007, but wrote a letter of complaint to the IMC about the standard of care he received under Dr Waldron.

Among the allegations were a failure by the consultant to provide adequate pain relief, and a failure to provide adequate supervision to her team.

Mr Clarke was unable to attend the hearing as he is seriously ill. However, an expert witness for the IMC concurred with a number of the allegations.

Dr Julia Riley, a consultant in palliative care at the Royal Marsden and Royal Brompton NHS Trust Hospitals in London, said she believed the pain management provided for Mr Clarke was "inappropriate" and did not follow guidelines.


She said Mr Clarke would have been in serious pain yet she could find no logical system to deal with this pain in the medical notes.

Dr Riley said the mix of drugs prescribed for Mr Clarke was "very unusual", adding it would be more usual to start a patient on mild painkillers before gradually increasing their strength.

Mr Clarke, the hearing heard, had said his pain was so constant he believed it would never leave him. He said he sometimes felt he would "gouge his own eye out with a spoon" in an attempt to stop it.

Dr Riley said the consultant's care fell seriously short of what is expected by a palliative care team and she would ultimately have to take responsibility for it.

The hearing continues today.

Irish Independent