Surgeon allegedly failed to inform patient of cancer scan

Thu, Nov 22, 2012, 00:00

A surgeon who allegedly failed to follow up on a scan for a woman who subsequently died of cancer faced seven allegations of poor professional performance at a Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry yesterday.

Consultant general and colorectal surgeon Paul Neary, who practises at the Beacon Hospital, Hermitage Clinic and Tallaght hospital, faced the allegations following his treatment of Mrs D, a 78-year-old woman from the midlands who died in 2011.

They included that he failed to take any or appropriate steps following an MRI scan, failed to inform Mrs D of the results of the scan at an appointment in March 2010 and also allegedly told Mrs D and her daughter the tests were normal.

Mrs D, a mother of nine, first saw Mr Neary on December 17th, 2009, at the Hermitage Clinic. She had bowel incontinence and suspected prolapse of the uterus. Mr Neary ordered five tests including an MRI scan. The scan was performed on January 13th. It showed an irregular mass on the right ovary. But Mrs D was not informed of the results until April.

Mrs D’s daughter, a nurse, told Patrick Leonard for the Medical Council she was with her mother at a follow-up appointment with Mr Neary on March 22nd. She said he shook hands with her mother and told them all the tests were normal. He also ordered a blood test, organised physiotherapy and recommended her mother take a medicine to treat diarrhoea.

While in London in April, Mrs D was taken ill and admitted to hospital. A blood test showed a low blood count so Mrs D’s daughter rang Mr Neary’s secretary to find out the results of the blood tests. She said Mr Neary phoned her back and said there was something suspicious on the MRI scan.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said. “We initially picked the private sector to ensure nothing adverse could happen; but it certainly let us down.”

She said her mother felt cheated and suffered “huge emotional and mental anguish as a result of not being told”. The family had lost “faith and trust in Dr Neary”, so although he offered to treat her at the Beacon, they took her to University College Hospital Galway. She spent two nights on a trolley before being admitted.

Mrs D had surgery in Galway on April 16th, followed by chemotherapy and died on June 22nd, 2011.

Cathal Murphy for Mr Neary, apologised on behalf of his client and said he always accepted there had been an error, but denied poor professional performance. He did not see the MRI results until April, Mr Murphy said.

The case continues.