“Poisons and medicine are oftentimes the same substance given with different intents” ~Peter Mere Latham
I did say I’d put our Wicklow talk up at some stage didn’t I? The file is too big to put up all together so here’s a ten minute section of me waffling and Maria doing what she does best. She’s an amazing friend. She’s also an inspiration.
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.
Cynical: Believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity. Me a cynic? Absolutely!
Isn’t it strange how ‘professionals’ are nice as long as you go with the flow and until you step away from the ‘norm’? As long as I accept that Shane was a homicidal/suicidal maniac and was just extremely good at hiding it for 22 years, I could be tolerated. As long as I accept that the drugs he was prescribed in his last 17 days were coincidental and accept what the Irish College of Psychiatry say ‘that the drugs do not cause suicide or violence’, that’s ok. As long as I don’t believe what the other experts say ‘that the drugs CAN cause suicide and Homicide’; then I’ll get the sympathy vote. That’s nice! Shane attended 2 doctor’s surgeries in the last few weeks of his life and there is a few points I would like to make that just don’t sit well:
i. When I first rang the Carlton Clinic in Bray after Shane’s death, I spoke to the doctor who prescribed Shane the drug (John McManus). He couldn’t have been nicer and said if I had any queries that we could arrange a meeting with him. When it became clear that I was bringing the issue of the adverse effects of antidepressants into the public domain, his attitude changed; he said if I had any queries, it would be advisable to put them in writing.
ii. I then spoke to our family GP in Ashford (husband and wife team, Dan McCarthy and Orla McAndrews). Shane’s last doctor’s visit was with their locum (Dr Buys/aka Dr Coatzee). Firstly, a few weeks after my son’s death I went to collect his medical records; Dr Orla came out with the envelope and said (and I quote) “there’s not much here as he was only here once.” (He only died once too.) That’s it! No “sorry for your loss” Nothing! I spoke to her husband Dan by telephone a few times and he seemed to be a tad more understanding. He assured me that the Inquest would ‘find’ whether the antidepressant Cipramil (which his locum prescribed) was involved in Shane’s death and he would talk to me then; It did and he didn’t!
iii. It also appears that their locum Dr Coatzee was in a bit of a hurry to hightail it back to her homeland of South Africa. Wonder was it something I said? Furniture for sale, urgent.
Myself and the poor husband went into the High Court a few weeks ago, just to observe (ha got ye there, Yep, would dearly love a day in Court with Lundbeck). Anyway as we do, we stumbled into a case where a doctor was in the dock. He performed a hip replacement on a woman who alleged that after the operation, one of her legs was shorter than the other. The doctor proceeded to tell the Court how, despite sending a letter to her GP recommending a shoe with a built up heal, it was all in the womans head. In my humble opinion ‘the God complex’ is a huge issue in the medical hierarchy and that’s why I thought people might like a look at the first page of Professor Healy’s book. It’s a great read and as you can see from this excerpt, he doesn’t hold back.
Click on the Pharmageddon picture to have a look at the Amazon page.
My father smoked all his adult life. He had a number of physical disorders, including ulcerative colitis, ironically one of the few conditions for which smoking is beneficial. In 1974, when he was in hospital for colitis, a routine chest x-ray revealed a shadow on his lung. Dr. Neligan, the surgeon called in, advised my mother on the importance of an operation.
Our general practitioner at the time was Dr. Lapin whom I remembered from childhood as being tall, silver-haired, and distinguished, often wearing a bow tie. He had spent time, I was told, as a doctor in the British army, a very unusual occurrence then in Ireland. To a child, Dr. Lapin had appeared effortlessly wise and seemed to transcend the boundaries of religion, politics, and division I saw elsewhere.
When my mother developed problems in the early 1960s after giving birth, Dr. Lapin had suggested she come to see him once a week, but at the time she felt the arrangement was too open-ended, and she could not afford it. She was seen instead by another doctor, diagnosed with an ulcer and ultimately received the standard operation of the day, which involved cutting the vagus nerve and removal of stomach. This left her with bowel problems for the rest of her life, and regrets for not having taken Dr. Lapin’s offer of treatment for what she later regarded as postnatal depression.
When my mother consulted him about the wisdom of an operation for my father, Dr. Lapin was slow to comment. But when pressed, he pointed out that my father had a number of illnesses, any of which could kill him before the tumor would. Many people, he said, went to their graves with cancers, heart disease, or other problems, but these were not what killed them. An operation would take a heavy toll on him.
My mother relayed this perspective to my father and suggested that he take six months to build himself up and then have an operation if he felt stronger; he agreed. When this plan was mentioned to the surgeon, he responded, “That’s fine, but have him out of the hospital within 48 hours.” When my mother revealed that my father still didn’t know he had cancer, the surgeon went straight from the phone to tell him. 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.
If there had been progress to speak of in the treatment of lung cancer in the years since my father’s death, his medical care might be viewed as one of those sacrifices that at least ultimately benefits others. But there has been little progress, even though advances on almost all medical fronts are trumpeted daily. Genuine progress has been made in some areas, but far less in most areas than many people have been led to believe. More importantly, when it comes to pharmaceuticals in particular, many of these apparent advances underpin and contribute to what in recent decades has become a relentless degradation in medical care, a replacement of Lapins with Neligans, a quickening march toward Pharmageddon. While drugs played no part in what happened to my father, they have played a huge role in fostering a surgical attitude to medical care, a kind of fast healthcare.
I was listening to the radio this morning when a remarkable woman named Vera Duffy came on. She was talking about her new book detailing her fight for Justice for her son Alan.
Vera’s son was severely damaged by the whooping cough vaccine he received at 5 months old. She spoke of the brick wall and aggression she came up against when dealing with the pharmaceutical company. Fast forward 22 years later to when Alan was dying in hospital; when informing a doctor that the vaccine had caused his injuries she was once again faced with aggression. You can find her interview here…Link. at 15 mins 20. “Justice For My Son tells of how Alan’s mother, Vera, patiently and laboriously acquired the knowledge and the evidence over many years, evidence she believes many eminent medical people and the government of the day suppressed.” Hmm, sound familiar?
Here’s the description from her book,
“This is every family’s worst nightmare.
It is the story of how a healthy five-month-old baby was reduced to a vegetative state by a medical procedure that the public authorities and the medical profession have refused to accept was in any way responsible.
Alan Duffy was brain damaged following the whooping cough vaccine and lived until he was a skeletal and helpless 22 year old. He died on New Year’s Eve, 1995.
Justice For My Son tells of how Alan’s mother, Vera, patiently and laboriously acquired the knowledge and the evidence over many years, evidence she believes many eminent medical people and the government of the day suppressed. It is evidence of a link between the vaccine and what happened to Alan and exposes a kind of ‘Russian Roulette’ accepted by vaccination programmes.
In fact the Dublin City Coroner used his own department funds to make an appeal on Vera’s behalf to the Supreme Court when he failed to get the government to indemnify him. By this unprecedented action, he demonstrated his belief of where the truth of the matter lies.
This fight won’t bring Alan back. But his mother will not give up until she finally gets justice for her son.”