Working Life: Prof Eric Masterson, surgeon

7am: My namesake, Eric Jnr, a wonderful little three-year-old boy, acts as my wake-up call. He keeps us busy but he is a joy. I live in Croom so I have a half-hour commute to the hospital. It’s a big change from the convenient two-a-half mile walk to Croom Orthopaedic Hospital, where I worked for 20 years. My wife, Deirdre Fanning, also works at the Bon Secours Limerick at Barringtons, but we rarely see each other during the day. She is a urologist.

8.30am: The first two days of the week are operating days. Generally, I head straight to theatre, but occasionally there may be a consent issue or other issues to iron out first. I specialise in hip and knee operations, carrying out five to six surgeries on a typical day.

10am: Knees are dominating proceedings today. Historically, the number of hip replacements far outweighed knee replacements, but knees are catching up. There are a couple of factors at play: more sports injuries, knee arthritis caused by obesity, and also the fact that we are getting better at the job and the outcome for the patient is more gratifying.

Noon: On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I run an all-day clinic. The majority of my patients are in the second half of their lives, I see very few children or adolescents. The numbers in need of hip and knee replacements are increasing by up to 10% yearly. This is partly attributable to the population demographic meaning larger numbers of older people. Fridays are flexible. I could be operating in Limerick or in the Bon Secours Hospital in Tralee.

3pm: My last two procedures today are hip replacements. This operation has changed hugely over the years. When I was a trainee, it took about two-and-a-half hours, and it involved a large incision, major blood loss and a longer recovery time. Nowadays, it takes about half an hour, the incision is small and there is minimal blood loss. We see patients back on their feet on the same day.

4.30pm: At the end of the operating list, I visit the ward to check on patient progress, to make sure everyone is comfortable, before I head home. Leisure activities are largely confined to the weekend. I enjoy shooting, fishing and gardening.

Professor Eric Masterson, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Bon Secours Hospital Limerick at Barringtons


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