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Doctor wins challenge on child surgery

A DOCTOR has won a challenge against a finding of poor professional performance against him after another doctor carried out an incorrect mouth surgery on a young patient.

The Medical Council finding against consultant paediatrician Professor Martin Corbally was "disproportionate" and not reasonable, the High Court ruled.

It amounted to blaming Dr Corbally for systems failures at Our Lady's Hospital, Crumlin, for which he was not responsible, the president of the High Court said.


Corrective surgery was quickly carried out by Dr Corbally on the two-year-girl who has made a full recovery, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns noted.

A central issue in the case involved the court considering for the first time what was captured by the definition of "poor professional performance (PPP)" in the 2007 Medical Practitioners Act.

Mr Justice Kearns ruled, because the Act allows for no appeal against a sanction imposed for PPP, it was appropriate to read the Act as requiring a single lapse or offence must be "serious".

He ruled the Council's Fitness to Practise Committee had erred in finding PPP against Dr Corbally arising from an admitted error in his notes concerning the required "tongue tie" procedure for the child.

The "real problem" lay with the systems in the hospital which did not allow for Dr Corbally's detailed and correct description of the required procedure on the child's admission card to be properly transcribed, he found.

The case arose after the girl was seen by Dr Corbally with a history of the frenulum (soft fold of tissue) under her top lip catching.

He recommended the required surgery and booked the child in for the procedure, correctly labelling what was required on her admissions form. But when the form was sent to the admissions department, a key reference in the surgery was not inputted into the hospital system.

Dr Corbally, with an address at Corballis, Donabate, Co Dublin, but working in Bahrain, was entitled to orders quashing the finding of poor professional performance and of the sanction of admonishment imposed on him, the judge ruled.