Doctor admitted falsifying blood test results

Tue, Nov 27, 2012, 00:00

A doctor who “made up” blood test results and who allegedly said “I don’t care” when called to attend a patient during the night faced five allegations of professional misconduct and or poor professional performance at a Medical Council fitness-to-practise committee yesterday.

Dr John Stewart McKenna (28) from Co Sligo, now a senior house officer at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, worked at St Michael’s Hospital in Dún Laoghaire when the incidents occurred, between January and April 2011. His employment was terminated at the hospital after an investigation into his behaviour there.

In defence of his refusal to attend a patient during the night, he told the hospital he was a “high-level athlete” and preparing for an Ironman triathlon at the time, the inquiry heard. He had since left the sport to prioritise his career.

Kate Dawson, for the Medical Council, outlined five allegations against Dr McKenna, including that on January 30th last year he was called at 12.45am to see a patient who had fallen out of bed, and he refused to go. When the nurse explained the patient had to be reviewed, he said “I don’t care”, and when her condition was explained, he said “I don’t care” a second time.

On March 19th, Dr McKenna refused to “re-chart” the drugs required by a patient, telling the nurse it was “a waste of time and paper” and he was refusing as “a matter of principle”, Ms Dawson said. He did later re-chart the drugs. The following day, Dr McKenna prescribed Warfarin, a blood-thinning agent, for a patient whose blood test results had not yet returned. The inquiry was told high Warfarin levels in the blood could cause bleeding and stroke, and when the patient’s blood test did return it showed elevated levels and the drug had to be stopped.

On March 23rd, Dr McKenna falsified blood test results for a patient he was referring to the hospital’s Warfarin clinic. When the Warfarin clinic nurse discovered this, he admitted it and said “they never noticed in St Vincent’s”, the inquiry heard.

On April 1st, Dr McKenna also prescribed an excessive dosage of morphine.

Marguerite Bolger, for Dr McKenna, said her client had never denied the incidents had occurred but did not accept they amounted to poor professional performance or professional misconduct. From the outset he had been honest about falsifying the blood test results, she said, but he believed it was in the best interests of his patient.

After Dr McKenna falsified the Warfarin tests, Prof McDonnell, consultant respiratory physician at St Vincent’s and St Michael’s hospital, spoke to Dr McKenna and found he was “detached”.

The case continues.