Crumlin spinal surgery review caused ‘anxiety’ but was needed for information, surgeon says

Dr David Moore said ‘pressure’ by media meant the purpose of review into spinal surgery outcomes could not be explained to patients in advance

An internal review in Crumlin Children’s hospital about spinal surgery outcomes was done so information on clinical standards of care and governance would be available should they be requested as a result of issues with Temple Street, a senior surgeon has said.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, Dr David Moore, consultant orthopaedic surgeon and head of orthopaedics at Children’s Health Ireland (CHI), acknowledged the news of the review would create an “unnecessary amount of anxiety and angst in patients who think that there’s something wrong”.

Advocacy groups for patients with scoliosis and other orthopaedic conditions had called on CHI to publish the review, amid concerns the problems identified in spinal surgery services at Temple Street children’s hospital may not be confined to that site.

“It would have been nice to have had the time to contact patients and explain how and why the review was being carried out, and if it did or did not affect their children, he said, “but we weren’t given that time because of the pressure that was put on us by the media to publish the report before we had time to do that”.


A majority of spina bifida patients undergoing spinal surgery at Crumlin children’s hospital required emergency returns to the operating theatre, the review showed.

A majority of the 11 children also suffered post-operative infection, but there were no deaths, and none of the children required the removal of metal implants following their original procedure.

Wound infection was the only significant complication among the affected children emerging from the review, according to CHI. It says the rate recorded falls within “published rates” for spina bifida spinal surgery, though changes have been made to the way wounds are managed.

There was no patient who should be worried or feel that something bad had happened because the review was being conducted, Dr Moore told RTÉ. There should not be any worry that information about their standard of care or any other information was being kept from them, he said.

If patients had to be phoned every time an audit or report was being conducted then the process would be hamstrung, he added.

“Of course we inform them if there are any problems. But that’s not the way that we would be able in any way to carry on the normal practice.

“The decision to carry out the internal review had been taken because Crumlin children’s hospital was conscious of the fact that “eventually someone would ask the question, quite reasonably, whether, if something had been going on in one hospital, there were similar problems in another,” Dr Moore said.

The internal review in Crumlin used the same parameters as those of the review in the other hospital, he said. Staff in Crumlin did not have any concerns about their own record.

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a reporter