Trust in your doctor, at your own risk.

Dr Gerry Rafferty
Dr Gerry Rafferty

Two weeks ago I blogged about this case Kinsella v Rafferty [2012] IEHC 529. I didn’t take too much notice of the facts at the time, apart from the adverse effects that Citalopram had on the plaintiff, which was prescribed post surgery.

That particular case involved a woman (Cynthia Kinsella) who took an action against Dr Gerry Rafferty, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist of Mount Carmel hospital. The action alleged that Dr Rafferty was negligent and breached the ‘duty of care’ owed to Ms Kinsella while performing a total abdominal hysterectomy. A Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) was found to have developed following surgery.

In finding for the plaintiff, Justice O ‘Neil found that Dr Rafferty’s evidence was unconvincing and further that: “I have come to the conclusion that the plaintiff’s fistula was caused by a failure on the part of the defendant to carry out this procedure with the degree of care to be expected from a consultant gynaecologist.” He awarded Mrs Kinsella damages of €425,000. Full Case on Bailii.org, here.

Dr Rafferty was involved in another tragic 2008 case, where a newborn baby boy died after being deprived of oxygen. At the little boy’s inquest Dr Rafferty and another Doctor ‘Valerie Donnelly’, acknowledged that the caesarean section should have been performed earlier. Dr Rafferty said he contributed to the delay in delivering the baby and expressed his profound apologies to the baby’s parents.

It seems that Dr Rafferty is again coming under scrutiny, this time as a subject of a Medical Council inquiry. The inquiry concerns his treatment of another two women, one where he failed to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy and another where he failed to refer a different woman to a urologist, following tests which showed her kidneys were not functioning properly. Tests later confirmed she had lost the use of her kidney.

Okay, so I’m not actually having a go at this doctor, really I’m not. Whether there is a bigger problem here is a different story. Four cases involving the same doctor, two which have yet to be proven (or not), may be ‘par for the course’ in the medical profession. My point is, why do people still trust My brother's perming daysdoctors as if they are Godlike creatures and of a higher power than everyone else? They are human, they make mistakes, just like we all do. In my case, as a hairdresser, the worst  thing that I did was a few dodgy perms. By the way, that’s my brother Leo getting a perm in the picture, i’m sure he’ll appreciate the mention. As far as I know, nobody died from any dodgy hairdos, but then thank goodness, i’m not a doctor. Died of embarrassment maybe, but not quite the same thing.

People need to start trusting their own judgments, to take responsibility for their own health and start asking questions. Stop trusting these people with your lives and worse, the lives of your children; they’re human, they can make mistakes too.

A recent article in the ‘Huffington Post’ entitled ‘Preventable Medical Errors: A Trillion Dollar Problem’ reports that ‘that adverse events occurred in as many as one-third of patient admissions’. Full article.

Professor Healy, in the first few pages of his book ‘Pharmageddon’ tells of his own father’s experience with the highly revered heart surgeon Dr Neligan: “Without an operation my father would be dead within months, Dr. Neligan indicated, but an operation offered the prospect of a cure. My father, alarmed, agreed and the operation took place two days later. Dr. Neligan afterwards said there was little they could do about my father’s tumor when they opened him up. He died six months later, his life almost certainly shortened by the operation.”

So while these doctors undoubtedly save lives, they are by no means infallible. It’s surprising, despite the invention of Google, how many doctors areDr Lucky Strike oblivious to the dangers of prescription drugs. Be informed. Use the RxISK website or Google; research before, not after you or your family member get a prescription/operation. Hopefully then, an informed decision can be made by all and not be too late, as in Shane’s case and numerous others. Doctor’s have evolved with the times and stopped promoting cigarettes and other dubious practices; great. This certainly doesn’t mean that in future generations, the latest medical ‘practices and procedures’ will not also be regarded as barbaric! Don’t be the next victim.

Doctor accused of failing two women faces 10 allegations in medical inquiry. 

Mums claim doctor put her life at risk

Doctors admit C-Section error

 

Update 16/04/2013: Consultant Gerry Rafferty found guilty of professional misconduct.

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20 thoughts on “Trust in your doctor, at your own risk.

  1. I also had a botched c-section with Dr Rafferty and I’m sure there are hundreds more like me. However, I am alive and fit to tell the tale (albeit with trauma, scars and memories to boot). I had a good rapport with Dr Rafferty all through my recovery and decided not to pursue it legally as thankfully me and baby survived. However, given the number of cases against him and anecdotal evidence in the public domain as to his personal circumstances, I do feel I should have reported this to the Medical Council or at least addressed it with Mount Carmel….

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    1. Japers Jo, It’s not very often I’m lost for words.
      I did think that for the Medical Council to act on a complaint concerning a high-profile doctor, they must have had some serious concerns. It will be interesting to see what the outcome is, although some of the cases are extremely tragic. Normally when I read about the Medical Council taking an action, it usually involves a foreign doctor, for whatever reason.

      Having dealt with the Irish Medical Council before, any inaction in the face of dangerous practices would certainly not be their first time. I’m so glad you and your baby are okay and that your experience, although obviously traumatic, had a happy ending. Thanks for the comment.
      Leonie

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  2. I had my first child with Dr. Rafferty in Mount Carmel. He was not present for the majority of the labour. He did ‘pop in’ overnight when he was checking on another patient. He arrived at the very last second although the midwife had phoned him a number of times as I had some bleeding and I was not really progressing. Anyway after a long time pushing my child was born – Dr. R arrived in time to hand him to me. Within 24 hours I knew something was wrong with me as I was unable to control my bladder or even feel when I was peeing. I was, to cut to the chase, completely incontinent. I reported this to Dr. R when he visited me and he told me it was ‘normal’ and I’d get better in time. However I did not. I never saw him again. My 6 week check was conducted by a midwife. When I told her I was incontinent and housebound as a result, she referred me to a website for help. It turned out to be for older people and completely irrelevant. I became very depressed and reclusive (with a new baby) I could not venture out or do any kind of exercise without leaking. I worried that I would never be able to have any more children. Finally I cracked up and mentioned it to a public health nurse who was appalled. She told me to go to my GP and I did. She was very understanding and referred me to a wonderful OB in the Coombe. I have since had another child with that OB and surgery and extensive physio to repair the damage. Thank goodness I’m 99% better and can function again. I never did anything about Dr. R and I regret it now. I don’t know if he should have paid more attention to my labour or if it would have made a difference. I have been told that I pushed too long and this was what caused the problem. Either way I received NO aftercare and NO assistance with my problem after I reported it. I was extremely depressed for a long time about my condition and I do feel it robbed me of what should have been a very special time with my first born.

    Now that I hear these other stories I do regret not doing something more about it at the time.

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    1. Thanks for commenting,
      It seems that this might be a much bigger can of worms than people realise. What an awful experience for you. I wonder sometimes if it’s a gender thing; how can a man know what a woman is feeling, no matter how many years he spent in medical school? There is no excuse for arrogance though… and I don’t think incontinence is ‘normal’ after childbirth. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of this action is and whether this will get any bigger. It certainly seems like a distinct possibility if more people are coming forward.
      Thank goodness for the public health nurse and thank goodness that you and your baby survived the trauma and have come through it. If you regret not doing something about it, maybe a phone-call would make you feel better?
      Leonie

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      1. Leonie, Thanks for replying. Like you said I’m kind of glad it’s all over and that myself and my son are well. When you hear about those people who lost their baby – oh my goodness! Keep up your great work for Shane, you are an awesome mother. Tracie.

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    2. Hi people my name is adrienne power i am one of the lucky ones surviving after coming into contact with Gerry Rafferty i had the strength to stand up to him and at present working with the the Medical council solicitors and we are having a court case i hopefully will be involved in getting this joke of a doctor struck off for good.Just reading all the comments of regreats of not going futher about him .I would like to have your names and addresses or an e-mail so i can show the medical council all of us women that he has damanged and not just the ones who went to court please help so we can stop him.i need justice

      e-mail adrienne81969@hotmail.com

      phone 0861761637

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  3. Well, I too can add to the ‘can of worms’ that is being a former patient of Dr, Rafferty. I won’t go into long details but I nearly lost my life under his care. The trauma I endured giving birth was horrifying. I also wish I had done something about it after the fact- but I was so caught up in being a new mom and recovering from my stint of 10 days in the ICU post birth that I mentally was not able to put up fight. The whole Mt. Carmel staff needs to be looked at. Having my child’s birth there was the worst decision I could have ever made.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Ms K. A can of worms indeed! No doubt there are others who were traumatized in Mount Carmel. Maybe there will be a class action in the future relating to the barbaric treatment that you and others have suffered. I certainly hope so. At the moment Ireland do not have the legislation required for a class action but I’ve heard that this may be imminent.. It is, in my opinion, long overdue.

      Hope you’re okay now and have fully recovered physically, if not entirely mentally. Isn’t it strange how people pay a fortune for the privilege of having a baby in Mount Carmel when you’d probably be much better off going public in other hospitals? At the very least, equal treatment should be on offer, not worse.
      Leonie

      Ps. Beautiful pic.

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      1. Thanks Leonie- I never felt I could complain before. We will see what happens in the future about class action, but I won’t hold my breath. Just read your story- bless you.

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  4. Finally googled Rafferty’s name after the case today. Shocked. We were under Dr. Dockarey in 2007 until he became ill around Halloween. His caseload was divided between the other consultants. We got Rafferty. The pregnancy had been plain sailing, but my wife developed hypertension and was prescribed to finish work and be seen ‘every other day’ by Mount Carmel’s lead consultant. Rafferty was told this but ignored it and scheduled the next meeting for a week later. So, a week later the levels were such she should have been re-admitted under guidelines, but instead he gave an increase in emdication and told her (37 weeks at this stage) he’d see her in three days.

    The following night our daughter died after my wife woke in excruciating pain. We rushed to Mount Carmel after advice from a nurse that we should ‘wait 30mins and drink a glass of water’, to be told there was no heartbeat and my wife’s life could be at risk.

    Rafferty arrived and took over delivery of our deceased daughter. he used a vacuum suction to remove her, somethin the conorer was very critical of this, saying it compromised the autopsy (which rafferty advised us was pointless) and was against best practise.

    We spoke to our orginal Dr, Dockeray and other medical staff who were furious with what happened. They suggested we pursue the matter, that it was far from an isolated incident – amongst other comments. Advices received showed systems failures and decisions taken against best pracise all through the incidents, and Mount Carmel accepted things happened that shouldn’t have, etc but….

    We couldn’t punish them. Under Irish law, despite what you’d assume, the unborn actuallyhas pretty much no rights.It seems however the law does not protect the rights of the unborn child, if they are not born alive. Advice we received from counsel referred to the case of Linda McGeehan v. National Maternity Hospital and Others, 21st April 2004. Mr. Justice Kearns (then a high court judge) referenced Section 58 of the Civil Liability Act 1961.

    “For the avoidance of doubt it is hereby declared that the law relating to wrongs shall apply to an unborn child for his protection in like manner as if the child were born, provided the child is subsequently born alive.”

    Mr. Justice Kearns said, in the course of making his decision, that it seemed to him that “the only interpretation, taking the words in their ordinary and natural meaning, is, that no such wrongful action is deemed in law to take place where the child is not born alive.” The decision in McGeehan was not appealed, remaining persuasive authority in the High Court but not binding on High Court Judges.

    And there you have it, as long as the child dies, they’re pretty much scott free from a civil suit perspective unless their negligence damages the mother.

    To read the other cases from 2007/2008, it seems Dr. Rafferty faced a number of legal issues over his performance, but god knows what he might have faced….

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    1. Thanks for the comment A.

      I’m so sorry that you lost your perfect little daughter and even sadder that the judicial system in this country did not allow justice for her or her family. How can that be, that a perfect full-term little girl lost her life due to a doctor’s neligence and yet he can effectively walk away because she didn’t take a breath outside the womb?
      So very tragic and preventable.
      Leonie

      RTE Article – http://www.rte.ie/news/2014/0121/499192-senan-dodd-high-court/

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    1. Hi to everyone who commented – I am genuinely shocked and saddened by each one of your experiences with Dr Rafferty. I to was a patient of Dockeray but ended up with Rafferty as Dr D was having a hip replacement. I have since taken legal advice and am taking action – this decision was made before he decided to quite practicing – stopping him from continuing to ‘practice’ was my main aim in taking action. We will see where it ends up. I spent 3 1/2 weeks in Mt Carmel (3 days in high dependency) – it was a very long struggle to pull myself back into this world and fight to be a mother to my son lying in an incubator without his Mammy for 3 days… tears me up just thinking about it. I think I’m only getting to the angry stage after almost 2 years! I would urge any of you to contact a medical negligence practice as least to discuss your case… each of us has the right to expect a reasonable duty of care and degree of competence…and it appears there were multiple failures for the past 7 years! No wonder Mt Carmel is closing….

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  5. Hi,
    I’m not sure if this blog is still active but I can confirm that this man is currently employed by the HSE and practising as a doctor. As he is working in the same organisation as I am, I am reluctant to make further details public but I am disgusted that he has contact with and responsibility for vulnerable patients. Surely something should be done about this.

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  6. I am aware cruelty and fear are man made.A child is labeled as ‘stupid’ schizophrenic, as mad because society needy to create scapegoats
    The poor are characterised by the demand for immediate gratification, by short term planning, by violence and by an unstable family structure.

    Healing requires intimacy most of our emotional conflicts are due to lack of unconditional love especially during childhood.
    There is no point looking at those who suffer severe forms of mental distress and seeing them as different.They are not It is only they have been subjected to an environment that has allowed their seeds to flourish.Harsh, critical unaffectionate parents.Parents consist a number of interpersonal skills and emotional demands, yet there is little in the way of formal education for this task.Poor nutrition poverty, unemployment,unhelpful coping strategies.Thank you to Dr Lynch an Irish psychotherapist who helps people to become aware.Best wishes.N Kelly

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