Wait times for mammograms too long, Medical Council hears

Fitness-to-practise inquiry over death of 40-year-old woman from breast cancer

Waiting times for routine mammograms in the area where a 40-year-old mother-of-one died of breast cancer were 18 months long in 2007 and 2008, a Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry was told this morning.

Waiting times for routine mammograms in the area where a 40-year-old mother-of-one died of breast cancer were 18 months long in 2007 and 2008, a Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry was told this morning.

Tue, Sep 24, 2013, 12:26

Waiting times for routine mammograms in the area where a 40-year-old mother-of-one died of breast cancer were 18 months long in 2007 and 2008, a Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry was told this morning.

Consultant radiologist Dr D, who cannot be named for fear of identifying the breast surgeon, said before the setting up of the current system for breast cancer treatment in the area where Ms K was initially treated, there were only four slots for routine mammograms per county for a population of 500,000.

The surgeon, who cannot be named on direction of the inquiry committee, is accused of failing to consider adequately or at all his patient’s condition, failing to carry out an adequate examination, failing to refer her for specialist review and failing to arrange adequate follow up. He also allegedly carried out an ultrasound without being qualified. He is currently on sick leave.

Ms K was referred to the surgeon by her GP in August 2007, suffering from lumps in her left breast. Dr C carried out a physical examination of Ms K at the first appointment and also carried out an ultrasound himself, but did not refer her for a mammogram. She was not diagnosed with breast cancer until June 2008.

Ms K was given the option of a follow up appointment in December, but did not take it. She made contact again in February, still concerned, was seen in March and received a mammogram in June. She was then diagnosed with breast cancer. After diagnosis, she asked for a second opinion and was referred to the Mater in Dublin. She was given a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy there, but died in September 2012. She had made a complaint to the Medical Council about Dr C in April 2012.

Giving evidence this morning, Dr D said Dr C was one of “the most conscientious doctors” she has ever worked with. She said she would have Dr C “back in a moment”.

The case continues.