Saturday 22 September 2018

'Doc couldn't tell me if he had removed my ovaries'

Gynaecologist Dr Peter Van Geene during the Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry at Kingram House, Dublin
Gynaecologist Dr Peter Van Geene during the Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry at Kingram House, Dublin
Prof Peter McKenna, who is due to give expert testimony today

A woman alleging poor professional performance against a gynaecologist never knew whether he had removed her ovaries following surgery, a fitness-to-practise inquiry has heard.

The mother-of-seven was giving evidence on the fourth day of the Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry into allegations by four patients made against Peter Van Geene.

The complaints relate to hysterectomies performed between 2009 and 2011 at the Aut Even hospital in Kilkenny. He will dispute the allegations when he gives evidence.

Patient C, who is remaining anonymous, told the inquiry she suffered with incontinence and vaginal discomfort and was referred to Mr Van Geene by her GP in 2011.

She met the surgeon in Aut Even where she agreed to undergo a vaginal hysterectomy and pelvic floor repair.

She said she did sign consent for the procedures but didn't fully understand what would happen.

She said she didn't remember discussing the operations with Mr Van Geene but said he had been "very reassuring".

After the hysterectomy, the patient was initially recovering well but then began to lose blood and became extremely sick. She had to undergo a laparotomy to repair the damage a few hours later and required six units of blood to be transfused.

The inquiry heard of a meeting the patient had with Mr Van Geene two months after the procedure at which stage she was no longer in discomfort, though still had incontinence problems.

She said at the meeting she had asked Mr Van Geene if he had removed her ovaries during the procedure.

"I did ask him if he removed my ovaries and he said he wasn't sure because he didn't have all his records with him," she told the inquiry.

She was then asked if the 'question' about ovaries had been subsequently answered, to which the patient said it had not.

Eugene Gleeson, barrister for Mr Van Geene, told her that her ovaries had not been removed and apologised that she had not been told this.

Under cross-examination, she said Mr Van Geene had been "very considerate" and that she was pleased she could now walk without any discomfort. She said "in hindsight" she should have mentioned the problems with incontinence had persisted but thought they would pass in time. She has subsequently visited physiotherapists and seen a specialist in the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin.

In earlier evidence, Aut Even anaesthetist Dr John Cudmore said he reported the care of Patient C to the hospital authorities because it was the "second significant haemorrhage in a short space of time" involving a patient under Mr Van Geene's care.

Dr Cudmore said he was called from his home on the night of October 11, 2011, after Patient C suffered postoperative bleeding after the hysterectomy.

He said the patient looked "shocked" when he saw her and he added that she was lethargic, in pain and bleeding.


He said he never spoke to Mr Van Geene either before or after the patient was taken back to the operating theatre for the laparotomy, something he agreed was "unusual".

The inquiry heard that afterwards Dr Cudmore reported the situation to the theatre manager. "It was the second case of serious haemorrhaging following an elective procedure with Mr Van Geene," he said and added anaesthetists had been "blamed before when things aren't going right in a hospital".

Asked by the inquiry committee why he hadn't spoken with Mr Van Geene, he said: "I don't know. I don't work with Mr Van Geene normally so I don't know."

The inquiry continues today with Prof Peter McKenna, former master at the Rotunda Hospital, due to give expert testimony.

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