Wednesday 26 October 2016

Mum rushed to hospital after GP missed serious illness, hearing told

Alison and Karl Hickey leave the hearing. Photo: www.doug.ie
Alison and Karl Hickey leave the hearing. Photo: www.doug.ie
Dr Saleem Sharif. Photo: www.doug.ie

A new mum was rushed to hospital with a potentially fatal condition a day after her GP misdiagnosed her as having a urinary tract infection, a medical hearing has heard.

Dr Saleem Sharif (57), with an address in Ballyphehane in Cork, failed to carry out an appropriate examination of Alison Hunter Hickey, or arrange for relevant investigations, when Ms Hickey visited him at the GP Now Clinic in Sandyford, Dublin 18, in October 2014. Dr Sharif was working as a locum GP in the South Dublin clinic at the time.

Dublin mum Alison Hunter Hickey (47) gave birth to twin boys by caesarean section, a disciplinary hearing at the Medical Council in Dublin heard yesterday.

Less than three weeks later, on October 28, 2014, Ms Hunter became unwell - experiencing flu-like symptoms, shivering, a high temperature, abdominal pain and odorous discharge.

Ms Hickey attended the GP Now Clinic in Sandyford, where she explained her symptoms to Dr Sharif.

According to the new mother, Dr Sharif conducted no physical examination, nor did he order any tests or take a complete medical history.

Instead, he asked only two questions - one regarding her discharge, and also whether she was had a sore throat.


"He said it was probably a urinary tract infection and asked was I allergic to penicillin. I said no - that was it. It was a very short consultation," Ms Hickey told the inquiry yesterday.

"There were very few questions asked. There was very little interaction. When I got back in the car, my sister-in-law actually said 'that was very quick'."

But the following day, Ms Hickey's symptoms grew worse.

"I woke up at 1am feeling absolutely dreadful," Ms Hickey said. "I was having spasms. I wasn't able to talk."

An ambulance was called and she was rushed to the Rotunda Hospital where she was diagnosed with endometritis, or an inflammation of the uterine lining. If left untreated, endometritis can lead to sepsis and organ failure.

The inquiry heard that endometritis is the most likely cause of infection in post-partum women, especially for those who have given birth by caesarean section.

Ms Hickey made a full recovery and was discharged from hospital on November 1, 2014.

Following the incident, Ms Hickey's husband, Karl Hickey, made a complaint to the GP Now Clinic. Unsatisfied with the response he received, Mr Hickey then complained to the Medical Council.

Yesterday, Dr Sharif - through his legal counsel - admitted that he failed to take an adequate medical history, failed to carry out any appropriate examination and failed to arrange for initial relevant investigations when Ms Hickey visited him on October 28, 2014. He also admitted that he failed to arrange for a follow-up appointment with her.


During her evidence yesterday, expert witness Dr Catherine Wann said: "These were serious failings because when the potential for sepsis exists, it is critical to do the relevant examinations and initiate investigations."

Dr Wann, from the Nobber Medical Practice in Co Meath, added that early diagnosis of sepsis is critical to its treatment.

Dr Sharif originally trained in Pakistan, where he qualified as a doctor in 1991. He has been working as a GP in Ireland since 2005. The inquiry continues.

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