Wednesday 20 November 2019

Registrar says she never saw request for vital cancer biopsy

Sharon McEneaney: died from cancer at the age of 31
Sharon McEneaney: died from cancer at the age of 31

Louise Hogan

A REGISTRAR denied seeing an instruction from a consultant facing 38 allegations of professional misconduct to organise a vital biopsy procedure on a young woman who later died of cancer.

Sharon McEneaney endured continuous pain in her lower stomach over a nine-month period of scans and appointments at the scandal-plagued Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth, before a malignant tumour was diagnosed.

Ms McEneaney, a creche manager, died aged 31 in April 2009.

It later emerged the essential biopsy was only carried out in July 2008 after her family sought the help of their local TD Rory O'Hanlon, who is also a medical doctor.

Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Lourdes hospital Dr Etop Sampson Akpan is before the Medical Council's fitness-to-practise committee, following a complaint from her younger sister Tanya McEneaney.

Dr Rukhsana Majeed, a registrar at the hospital for six-months in early 2008, told the hearing yesterday said she could not recall ever seeing a written instruction attached to Ms McEneaney's file ordering a CT-guided biopsy on a tumour.

Eileen Barrington, counsel for Dr Akpan who has yet to give evidence, said her client would state he had requested the registrar to organise a biopsy following an outpatients' clinic in February 2008.

"I never came across any note like that as far as I can recall," she said.

Dr Majeed said she could not specifically recall Ms McEneaney's case but would have remembered the note as such biopsies were rarely requested.

The committee also learned the HSE-run hospital was understaffed with radiologists -- with a six-month waiting list for outpatient ultrasound tests around the time Ms McEneaney was receiving treatment.


At an earlier hearing, the committee was told the tumour was related to the genetic condition of neurofibromatosis, which that can result in tumours growing from nerves or tissues, and which Ms McEneaney underwent testing for at the hospital in 2004/2005.

Deirdre Lynch, a consultant radiologist at Lourdes, revealed she was unaware of the genetically-inherited condition or the results of an exploratory operation from December 20, 2007 when she carried out a CT scan a month later.

Ms Lynch advised a CT-guided biopsy should take place to pinpoint whether the tumour was cancerous, but the biopsy still did not take place until July 2008.

Instead, Ms McEneaney returned for a second, unnecessary ultrasound scan in April 2008. Ms Lynch said she believed the second ultrasound was carried out as a result of the original request on November 1, 2007 remaining in the system.

This request should have been removed from the system.

She said at the time the waiting list stood at around six-months for outpatient ultrasounds which had been requested to take place within one to two weeks.

"The radiology department at Lourdes is significantly under staffed.

"There is one stenographer when it should have four or five," she said, adding that had been the case since she started work there in 1998 to the present day.

The inquiry continues today.

Irish Independent

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