Mother of 13 died after misdiagnosis, inquiry told
A 39-YEAR-OLD mother of 13 who first attended the emergency department at a Co Clare hospital in June 2008 with abdominal pain was not diagnosed with appendicitis until November that year and died less than a month later, a Medical Council fitness-to-practise hearing was told yesterday.
Martina Sherlock, Childers Road, Ennis, died on December 10th, 2008, after undergoing three operations in three weeks.
Syed Naqvi, the consultant surgeon who carried out the procedures, yesterday faced 11 allegations of professional misconduct and poor professional performance.
The consultant was practising at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Ennis in 2008 when he carried out the surgery.
Ms Sherlock, who was pregnant for the 14th time when she first presented with abdominal pain at Ennis in June 2008, was initially wrongly diagnosed with acute cholecystitis, an inflammation of the gallbladder. She lost her baby through miscarriage due to septicaemia (blood poisoning) on July 15th and her appendicitis was not diagnosed until November 18th after a CT scan was carried out.
She had three operations at the Ennis hospital to remove the appendix mass, which also involved removing part of her colon. She was transferred to Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick, on December 9th, and died there on December 10th.
The allegations against Mr Naqvi included that he carried out an inappropriate operation on the patient on December 8th and that he failed to arrange for CT scans when required or make adequate arrangements for transfusions in advance of her third surgery. It is also alleged he failed to transfer Ms Sherlock to Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick, within an adequate period.
Counsel for Mr Naqvi, Eileen Barrington SC, said her client, who qualified in Pakistan, had worked in Ireland since 1985 and was an Irish citizen. When he began work at Ennis hospital in 2005 he was one of three general surgeons, but by 2008 he was the only general surgeon there.
In late 2008, the Health Information and Quality Authority had investigated the hospital. It found it was unsafe to continue acute emergency treatment there and the department was closed.
Mr Naqvi transferred to Limerick hospital, where he continues to work. She said her client did not accept the allegations.
Giving evidence on behalf of the Medical Council, expert witness Anthony Peel, a consultant surgeon at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, was particularly critical of the delayed transfer of Ms Sherlock to Limerick hospital where there were better facilities to stabilise her condition. He said she should have been transferred in advance of the third operation.
“Once she became septic again – that is a situation when one is trying to save her life . . . it needs care at a major intensive care unit,” he said.
In a statement read into the record by JP McDowell, solicitor for the Medical Council, Ms Sherlock’s husband of 22 years, James Sherlock, outlined the pain his wife went through and her experiences at the hospital.
“My family have been devastated since Martina passed away and every day has been a struggle since,” he said.
Speaking outside the hearing, he said if he could have changed places with his wife, he would have.
The hearing continues today.