Two weeks ago I blogged about this case Kinsella v Rafferty  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 doctors 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 are 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.
Update 16/04/2013: Consultant Gerry Rafferty found guilty of professional misconduct.