Doctor did not recognise high pulse rate, medical inquiry told

Medic facing 12 allegations of misconduct was viewing X-ray upside down, nurse says

Fri, Dec 13, 2013, 12:31

A doctor facing 12 allegations of professional misconduct did not know that a pulse rate of 165 was high, a nurse who worked with him told a Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry this morning.

Staff nurse Aisling McCormack, from the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise said when she told Dr Vincent Osunkwo the rate of a patient’s pulse, he asked if that was high. He also did not know what to do about it. She was concerned for patient safety, she said.

Dr Osunkwo was a senior house officer at the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise from February to April 2009.

The allegations against him included that he tried to read a spinal X-ray while holding it upside down, he could not identify the nasal bone on an X-ray when asked to do so by a senior doctor and he attempted to cannulate – place a tube –using a scalpel to cut a patient’s hand.

He also allegedly told a senior doctor a patient had a benign prostate condition when he did not and said another patient’s kidney scans were fine when they showed multiple, abnormal masses. He allegedly was unable to diagnose a fungal nail infection and made an excessive number of attempts to take a blood sample from a patient’s arm.

The case had been adjourned from September to give Dr Osunkwo, who had returned to Nigeria, a last opportunity to participate in the hearing either in person or through video link.

Rory Mulcahy BL, for the Medical Council, told the inquiry they had corresponded with Dr Osunkwo and received one email from him in which he said he had been subjected to “borderline character assassination”, and this would have to be addressed. However, he did not communicate further.

Ms McCormack said she saw Dr Osunkwo trying to put a needle into a young woman who needed intravenous antibiotics. She stepped out for a few minutes and when she returned the patient was “clearly distressed”. The doctor had tried to put in the cannula eight or nine times.

“The patient was so upset I asked him to stop,” she said.

She said she was concerned about his lack of knowledge and lack of basic skills.

She reported the incident to senior staff.

Clinical nurse manager at the hospital Joe Hoolan told the inquiry he saw Dr Osunkwo looking at a spinal X-ray upside down. He asked the doctor what he was doing and turned the X-ray the right way up.

It was “the first and last time” he had ever had to do that, he said.

The case continues.

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