Doctor did not treat child over card issue

Tue, Mar 5, 2013, 00:00

A Dublin-based GP who did not treat a sick child after discovering the family’s medical card was invalid and the mother did not have €40 to pay has had a finding of professional misconduct made against him at a Medical Council fitness-to-practise committee.

Chairman of the committee Brendan Broderick said the failure of Dr Jerry Nasstrom, from Coolock Health Centre in north Dublin, to treat the 1½-year-old constituted professional misconduct as it seriously fell short of standards expected of the profession.

Three other allegations against the doctor were not upheld. Mr Broderick said a meeting of the full Medical Council would decide on the sanction to be imposed.

Lump on neck

In evidence yesterday, the child’s mother told the hearing she took the child to see Dr Nasstrom after finding a lump “the size of a golf ball” on her neck in January 2012.

She said she asked to see Dr Nasstrom and the receptionist told her to knock on his door. The doctor opened and she was crying and her voice was shaking, she said. She asked if he would see her daughter and he asked if she had a medical card and was registered with him, then went back into his office to check the system. When he came out he said her medical card was invalid and the fee would be €40.

She did not have the money and told the GP she was a lone parent and would drop the money over later in the week. He closed the door on her, she claimed. She said she knocked again and asked if he would at least tell her if she needed to bring her daughter to hospital, and he said “unless you have €40, I can’t comment”.

Closed door

She said he closed the door on her three times. She said she went to Temple Street children’s hospital and the child had surgery that night to remove what was an abscess on her neck.

Dr Nasstrom, originally from Sweden, denied the allegations. He described the exchange with the mother as “very brief” and “neutral”. He agreed he closed his door to check his computer and noted the medical card was invalid, and he told the mother this and said the fee was €40. He said she “just walked out of the place”. He thought she would go to an ATM and come back.