Doctor cleared over care of woman who died hours later

A member of the Cork-based SouthDoc service was yesterday cleared by a Medical Council fitness-to-practice inquiry into five allegations relating to the care he gave a woman who died hours after being seen by him.

Mary Daly told the inquiry that her mother, May O’Sullivan, 64, had been unwell with diarrhoea and vomiting for several days before being seen by Mehboob Kukaswadia at around 11.30pm on Dec 11 2008.

Ms O’Sullivan was found dead by her son the morning after the doctor from the GP service in Cork City visited her home.

The inquiry was told that a coroner’s report found that the main cause of death was a heart attack.

Ms Daly, who had left her mother’s home just hours earlier, became alarmed when she telephoned her around 8am and got no response.

She had claimed that, apart from taking her mother’s blood pressure and pinching her skin, Dr Kukaswadia had not made any further physical examination.

Counsel for the doctor, Paul Twomey BL, said that what was at issue in the case was the doctor’s judgement call, and he was entitled to that.

“He is entitled to disagree with another doctor and not live in fear of an allegation of poor professional performance,” said Mr Twomey. “He might not always be correct, but every time he is wrong does not amount to a failing of the standard of care he is expected to provide.”

Ms Daly said there was an improvement in her mother’s condition the day before she died and she had gone into town against her advice. She later received a phone call saying her mother had collapsed outside the GPO in Cork city and had been taken home in a taxi.

She had followed Dr Kukaswadia’s instructions to keep her mother hydrated and had stayed with her until 4am.

Following a two-day inquiry, the doctor was cleared of an allegation of failing to take the patient’s medical history; failing to take her vital signs, including her pulse; failing to transfer her to hospital, given that her symptoms included dizziness and low blood pressure; and failing to keep an adequate record of his treatment or examination of her.

Dr Kukaswadia, who is from Pakistan but has been an Irish citizen sine 1985, had denied that any of the allegations against him amounted to professional misconduct or poor professional performance.

His wife cried openly when Dr Monaghan announced the finding.

Dr Kukaswadia told the inquiry that while he agreed he did not record the woman’s pulse or respiratory rate in his notes, he did monitor them and had assumed that her daughter would keep an eye on her through the night.

He said he would have arranged for the woman to be brought by ambulance to hospital, despite the presence of the winter vomiting bug, but felt that her symptoms were “resolving”.


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