Doctor admits errors left woman in pain

A mother was left with facial pain and permanent vision damage after a Cork neurosurgeon failed to get her consent for a procedure, adequately inform her of the risks and ensure adequate post-operative care.

Dr John Charles ‘Charlie’ Marks, from Cork, was yesterday up before a fitness to practice inquiry at the Medical Council, facing allegations of poor professional performance — of which he was found guilty.

Thirteen allegations were made in relation to a procedure Dr Marks carried out on Rosalind Shone at Cork University Hospital on November 11, 2011 — the day of her 33rd birthday.

Ms Shone was not present at the inquiry as she now lives in Australia.

Dr Marks, now retired and lecturing at University College Cork, did not bring legal representation because he said he “did badly” in the case of Ms Shone.

The inquiry heard Ms Shone, from Wexford, has two young children with her long-term partner. In 2010, they were living in the UK, when she began to experience facial pain. It was so severe it began to affect her everyday life.

After several consultations, she was given a diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia (TM) in August of that year.

A rare neuropathic disorder, TM affects the trigeminal nerve, which spreads across the face and up the side of the temple. Sufferers experience intense chronic facial pain.

In September 2010, Ms Shone and her family returned to Ireland to live with her parents in Wexford.

During this time, she attended a support group in Dublin for people suffering from TM. It was there that she heard of Dr Marks, a neurosurgeon based in CUH.

Ms Shone had her first appointment on July 12, 2011. Dr Marks felt her symptoms were not typical and questioned the TM diagnosis.

He changed her medication. However, she developed an allergic reaction and experienced severe stabbing pains in her left eye. Following another appointment, he recommended a Gycerol injection, to manage the pain for one to two years.

Ms Shone was to receive the injection on October 26, 2011, and after travelling from Dublin, learned there was no bed available.

On November 7, Dr Marks texted her to say he could do the procedure on November 11.

When admitted, she asked a member of staff about side-effects and was told the only side-effect would be minor bruising. She signed a consent form.

She was then told that Dr Marks had changed his mind about the injection and, after speaking with a colleague, he thought a trigeminal radiofrequency lesioning procedure, a treatment for TM, was most appropriate.

The inquiry heard Dr Marks did not explain the risks or side effects adequately — and no consent in relation to this new procedure was obtained.

The lesioning procedure, which damages the nerve so that the patient no longer feels pain, was carried out.

Although Ms Shone was optimistic, within a week she began to feel unwell, experiencing pain in her left eye and blurred vision.

Ms Shone, who emigrated in December 2012, now has permanent eye damage, with ongoing blurred vision and numbness.

Dr Marks told the inquiry:

“I clearly made a succession of errors and mistakes here. Nothing changes that I made them and they are legally indefensible.”

Sanctions against Dr Marks will be determined at a later date.


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