Doctor accused of wrongdoing at Portlaoise hospital says he cannot afford lawyer

Fitness to practice inquiry told concern over foetal monitors had no impact on allegations against doctor

 

A doctor facing allegations of wrongdoing over the delivery of baby Mark Molloy, who died at the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, has claimed he cannot afford legal representation.

The doctor, who cannot be named and is referred to as Dr A, is accused at a Medical Council fitness to practise hearing of professional misconduct and poor professional performance.

He is representing himself.

On the fourth day of the inquiry, Dr A sought another adjournment over concerns about the use of a foetal monitor in Portlaoise, which was subject to a safety alert in 2009.

The inquiry was told the Health Service Executive (HSE) is carrying out “a risk assessment” looking at the action taken at Irish hospitals since manufacturer Phillips warned about its Avalon foetal monitors in September that year.

Dr A said he wanted the inquiry to await the outcome of this assessment and also give him time to find his own expert on the issue.

The doctor and his wife broke down a number of times during the hearing on Monday, and, at one stage, he tried to address Mark and Róisín Molloy, the baby’s parents, who sat behind him.

The monitors in question had been linked to several adverse outcomes for babies, he told the inquiry.

Legal aid

Dr A also said he could not afford a lawyer to represent him at the hearings and asked if there would be any legal aid available to him.

Patricia Dillon SC, legal assessor for the hearing, said she was not aware of legal aid ever being granted to those who had come before a Medical Council hearing.

Dr A, who remains on the medical register, was granted a four-week adjournment to find an expert, but was not permitted a postponement pending the outcome of the HSE review.

Dr A said his wife would not be able to accompany him to hearings during March because she had childcare commitments.

She was his only support, as he had no lawyer, and he did not want to attend without her, he said.

After repeated attempts to fix a date for the resumption of hearings, Dr A said he was no longer seeking an adjournment and would continue with the inquiry this week.

Seven separate allegations

Frank Beatty SC, barrister for the Medical Council, said concerns about the foetal monitors had no impact on seven separate allegations against the doctor.

The hearing had already been adjourned last November over the issue and “significant resources” had been put into getting as much information as possible.

“The majority of that information” had been handed to Dr A by January 18th, Mr Beatty told the inquiry. ,

Baby Mark Molloy died at Portlaoise hospital on January 24th, 2012.

Mr and Mrs Molloy were told their boy was stillborn but later found out that he had been born alive and had died about 22 minutes later, following unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate him.

Official records, obtained by the Molloys using freedom of information laws, showed their baby’s death had been recorded as stillborn.

The coroner was also notified it had been a stillbirth, but an inquest ultimately recorded death due to medical misadventure and a neonatal death.

Dr A allegedly failed to review the cardiotocograph (CTG) adequately and failed to correctly interpret it as being abnormal.

It is also alleged that on or around January 24th, 2012, Dr A retrospectively amended a CTG note from satisfactory to unsatisfactory and added the word “non-reassuring” where the doctor “knew or ought to have known it was inappropriate”.

The doctor is also alleged to have prescribed or directed the commencement of syntocinon “in circumstances where this was inappropriate” and failed to consult the consultant on call in a timely manner.

He has rejected the majority of the allegations.

Dr A has said he amended the CTG note to unsatisfactory but that he did not know this was inappropriate or that he should have signed and dated the amendment.