Wednesday 26 October 2016

Doctor told me my womb was thrown in bucket, inquiry told


Helen Cruise, who claims consultant Peter Van Geene has ‘ruined her life’
Helen Cruise, who claims consultant Peter Van Geene has ‘ruined her life’
Dr Peter van Geene

A doctor told a woman he had thrown her womb "into a bucket on the floor" during a hysterectomy in a private hospital, a Medical Council fitness to practice inquiry has heard.

Helen Cruise said Peter Van Geene, who is facing allegations of poor professional performance, has "ruined her life" and recalled her terror after the operation that took place in August 2011, in the Aut Even Hospital in Co Kilkenny.

Ms Cruise also claimed that the doctor "went berserk" and slapped her on the hands and knees. Mr Van Geene later angrily shouted "sue me, sue me, sue me" when she confronted him about the procedure, the inquiry has heard.

Mr Van Geene is facing allegations made by four women, though Ms Cruise is the only patient to have waived her right to anonymity.


Giving evidence on the second day of the inquiry, Ms Cruise said she suffered "horrific" treatment and suffers from chronic pain and incontinence today and uses a walking stick for mobility. The claims by the mother-of-seven from Kilkenny will be disputed by Mr Van Geene.

Ms Cruise had been a patient at St Luke's hospital in Co Kilkenny and suffered with severe urinary incontinence and a prolapse of the vaginal wall.

She was a medical card holder and placed on a waiting list for a hysterectomy. But through the National Treatment Purchase Fund, she was told she could have the procedure in Aut Even.

Ms Cruise said she signed a consent form before the operation but added she wasn't fully sure what the procedure entailed. She said she had never met Mr Van Geene before the operation and was horrified by the way the doctor spoke to her in the operating theatre.

"He said I've just thrown it (her womb) into a bucket on the floor," Ms Cruise told the inquiry. "I thought 'that's not a nice thing to say. That womb carried all my children'."

She suffered severe adverse effects following the operation and she was subsequently transferred to St Luke's Hospital.

Mr Van Geene then visited her in St Luke's where he told her the post-operative bleeding she suffered was because she had coughed during the operation.

"He said: 'You did it all yourself. You coughed and you burst it (the stitching) all open'," Ms Cruise claimed. She went on to say Mr Van Geene "went berserk" and slapped her on the hands and knees.

"He was like a mad man. He was pacing up and down the room," she told the inquiry.

Later, Ms Cruise's daughter Aneka said she was "shocked" when the surgeon said he had "ripped out" her mother's ovary during a meeting after the procedure. She said he became very aggressive at another meeting around a week after the operation when Ms Cruise asked him to prove she had coughed and caused the ligature to come out.

She claimed he said: "I know where this is going - litigation," and then shouted "Sue me, sue me, sue me", while allegedly hitting her on the hand.

Under cross-examination, Mr Van Geene's legal counsel Eugene Gleeson said his client will say that the operation went as expected and that the nursing records show the post-op problems did not appear until 11pm that night.

He put it to Ms Cruise her remarks about her womb being thrown into a bucket were not true. Ms Cruise denied this and said the nursing records were "all lies".

He also put it to Ms Cruise that because she has been a smoker, she may have coughed which could have resulted in stitches being dislodged.

Ms Cruise said she could not remember all the events but said she didn't cough.

The inquiry continues today.

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