GP failed to diagnose life-threatening abdominal infection
Medical Council finds doctor guilty of poor professional performance
Photograph: Hugh Macknight/PA Wire
A GP who failed to diagnose a patient with a life-threatening infection that created a mass the size of a melon in her abdomen was found guilty of poor professional performance at a Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry last week.
Dr Tonya Timmons from Dublin was training at Coolock Health Centre in autumn 2011 when she treated her patient Joanne Kelly over a series of four visits.
She diagnosed Ms Kelly, a childcare worker, with a urinary tract infection and then with sciatica. When her symptoms worsened, Ms Kelly attended the emergency unit at Beaumont Hospital where she was diagnosed with abdominal actinomycosis, a rare bacterial disease that created a mass in her pelvis and required surgery and intravenous antibiotics.
Chairman of the inquiry committee Declan Carey said the committee found Dr Timmons had failed to conduct an adequate examination of Ms Kelly during a consultation on September 16, 2011.
Aat a consultation on October 4th, the doctor failed to give “adequate consideration” to any other diagnosis apart from sciatica “in circumstances where that diagnosis was not entirely consistent with the patient’s symptoms”.
She also failed to arrange appropriate investigations to establish the correct diagnosis. The three findings amounted to poor professional performance.
The committee’s report will be referred to the board of the Medical Council who will decide on any sanction to be imposed on the GP.
Giving evidence last week, Ms Kelly had said at her last two visits to Dr Timmons she complained of symptoms including back pain, difficulty walking, dizziness, nausea, weight loss and blue lips.
She was told she had sciatica, was given prescriptions for anti-inflammatory drugs and told she needed more exercise. She was also screened for post-natal depression, having given birth to her first child four months earlier.