No scanner at hospital where Clare mother died
A CONSULTANT surgeon facing allegations of professional misconduct in the wake of the death of a 39-year-old patient has said he would have carried out a CT scan in advance of a serious operation on her if there had been a scanner at the Co Clare hospital where he worked.
Syed Naqvi, who was a consultant surgeon at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Ennis, faced 11 allegations at a Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry in relation to his care of Martina Sherlock, a mother of 13, who died on December 10th, 2008.
Ms Sherlock first attended the emergency department at Ennis hospital in June 2008 with abdominal pain while she was pregnant. She miscarried and was not diagnosed with appendicitis until November that year. She died less than a month later after undergoing three operations.
Among the allegations against Mr Naqvi, two were related to his failure to send Ms Sherlock to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick, for CT scans after she developed complications from her first operation and before he carried out her third operation.
Yesterday Mr Naqvi said it would have taken hours to arrange for and carry out a CT scan at Limerick and there wasn’t any acute ambulance service to take a seriously ill patient. He said he acted in good faith and loved his patients.
“I would not let my sister go in her state,” he said. But he said if there had been a scanner at Ennis he would have used it and carried out a scan.
Earlier, the inquiry heard details of letters written by consultants at Ennis hospital to then minister for health Mary Harney in 2005 warning that patients’ lives were at risk. The consultants asked for the “immediate provision of a CT scanner” and said it was “madness” that critically ill patients were being transported miles to have scans.
Mr Naqvi said yesterday the consultants did not receive a response to their letter to Ms Harney, and there was no response from the Health Service Executive. But a later investigation by the Health Information and Quality Authority resulted in the ending of emergency surgery at Ennis in 2009.
Under cross-examination, he told JP McDowell, solicitor for the Medical Council, that he referred only one in-patient a year to Limerick for a CT scan.
“I’m the best there,” he said.
He said a CT scan was not a cure; it was to help the clinician take the best option. He also defended his decision not to transfer Ms Sherlock to the Limerick hospital, which had better intensive care facilities, in advance of the third operation. He said he was “absolutely confident” he could do something for her at Ennis and was used to dealing with similar cases. There was no other case in his five years at Ennis that he had transferred to Limerick, he said.
After the third operation, Ms Sherlock’s condition deteriorated and she was transferred to Limerick hospital. Mr Naqvi said he was shocked when he heard of her death. Becoming emotional, he said he had been attached “to the patient”.
“I was not expecting this outcome at all,” he said. He was “sorry for the outcome”.
Mr Naqvi also told the inquiry that he discovered after her death that an ultrasound scan carried out at the Mid-Western Maternity Hospital in Limerick had showed up a “complex mass” before Ms Sherlock had her miscarriage in July 2008, but it was never followed up.
The case was adjourned to October 26th.