Doctor allegedly admitted cutting C-section patient in ‘wrong place’

Obstetrician accused of professional misconduct in Sligo is before medical council

Dr Andrea Hermann  was also the subject of a previous fitness to practice inquiry at the Medical Council, in 2009 and 2010. Photograph: Courtpix

Dr Andrea Hermann was also the subject of a previous fitness to practice inquiry at the Medical Council, in 2009 and 2010. Photograph: Courtpix

 

A doctor who allegedly admitted cutting a patient undergoing a Caesarean section “in the wrong place” is before a medical council fitness to practice inquiry.

Dr Andrea Hermann faces allegations of professional misconduct and poor professional performance arising from her care of six patients at Sligo Univerity Hospital where she worked as an obstetric and gynaecological registrar in 2013 and 2014.

Patient A told the inquiry that she suspected something was not right when she was still in hospital four days after giving birth. She asked her husband to take a look at her scar and, when he did so, she said he told her, “It’s an awful big scar. It goes down one side.”

She was allowed go home on the Sunday but just as she was leaving a woman at reception “roared” at her to stay. She said Dr Hermann then came up to her. The doctor brought Patient A into a room and, according to Patient A, said, “I cut you in the wrong place.”

Patient A said Dr Hermann admitted she had made a mistake, apologised and said she was sorry this had happened to her.

Patient A said Dr Hermann said by way of explanation that they were using new drapes – a large piece of fabric placed over the patient with a slit for the incision – during the surgery.

“At this point I didn’t know what to think,” Patient A told the inquiry. “I was very shocked. I was quite upset leaving the hospital.”

“I was devastated,” she said. “I couldn’t get my head around how she had made a mistake doing a planned section.”

She said she still experiences a twinge of pain on her side.

Serious consequences

In relation to another patient, it is alleged that Dr Hermann failed to establish whether a Mirena coil was still in place during a follow-up appointment. This patient later conceived and miscarried, the inquiry heard.

It is also alleged that Dr Hermann failed to display any surgical skill when closing a uterotomy during a procedure undergone by a woman referred to as Patient F. The inquiry heard that during this procedure, in January 2014, Dr Hermann was attempting to suture Patient F’s uterus to her abdominal wall. If it had not been for the intervention of one of her colleagues, there could have been very serious consequences for the patient, the inquiry heard.

It is also alleged Dr Hermann failed to tell the Sligo hospital of previous conditions imposed on her by the Medical Council following an earlier fitness to practice inquiry in 2010.

Her legal representative, Gerard O’Donnell, of O’Donnell Waters solicitors in Galway, read out a statement on behalf of Dr Hermann, before going off record. In the statement, Dr Hermann said that as a result of events following the previous inquiry in 2009 and 2010, she suffered from severe depression and was “traumatised”. She said her privacy was of huge importance and asked that her name did not appear in the media again.

Senior counsel Patrick Leonard, for the Medical Council, said Dr Hermann was also the subject of a previous fitness to practice inquiry at the Medical Council, in 2009 and 2010. Before this time, Dr Hermann worked in the Galway Clinic.

On foot of this, the Medical Council recommended that Dr Hermann be suspended for one year and that certain conditions be attached to her registration, such as agreeing to certain supervision, once she began work again. These conditions were confirmed by the High Court in March 2011.

Dr Hermann was suspended from June 2010 to June 2011. During this time, she practiced as a doctor in Germany, where she is from originally, and she continued to work there until the summer of 2013.

Restrictions

It is alleged that she did not disclose the restrictions attached to her registration at a job interview at Sligo University Hospital when she returned to Ireland, although Dr Hermann disputes this.

Her application for re-registration was accepted and on July 24th, 2013, the Medical Council emailed Sligo hospital to confirm that Dr Hermann was registered, with certain conditions attached.

However, it appears that the hospital “did not appreciate” that Dr Hermann’s registration was subject to conditions, according to Mr Leonard.

By January 2014, concerns had been raised within Sligo hospital about Dr Hermann’s clinical competencies. The hospital removed her from the on-call rota, and they increased levels of supervision for her. In May 2014, Dr Hermann resigned from her post.

The inquiry heard that Dr Hermann, who is not present at the inquiry, admits to a number of the clinical allegations, and that they amount to poor professional performance. However, she has not made any admissions regarding the allegations concerning the conditions attached to her registration.

At the start of the inquiry Dr Hermann applied for a privacy application, so that her name would be anonymised, but this was denied.

The inquiry will continue on Wednesday.