A new mother suffering from a potentially fatal inflammation of her uterus was misdiagnosed by a local GP, resulting in her being rushed to hospital the following day, an inquiry heard yesterday.

Dr Saleem Sharif, 57, from Ballyphehane, 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 on October 2014, where he was working as a locum GP.

Ms Hickey, 47, gave birth to twin boys in October 2014 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, he conducted no physical examination, nor did he order any tests or take a complete medical history. Instead, he asked her only two questions — one regarding her discharge, and also whether she was suffering from 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.

But the following day, Ms Hickey’s symptoms grew worse. “I woke up at 1am feeling dreadful,” Ms Hickey said. “I was having spasms. I wasn’t able to talk.”

She was rushed to the Rotunda hospital. There she was diagnosed with endometritis, or an inflammation of the uterine lining. If left untreated, it 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.

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

Following the incident, her husband, Karl Hickey, made a complaint to the GP Now Clinic and complained to the Medical Council.

Yesterday, Dr Sharif admitted 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. He also admitted that he failed to arrange for a follow-up appointment with her.

Dr Sharif originally trained in Pakistan and has been working as a GP in Ireland since 2005. Although it was not mentioned at the inquiry yesterday, Dr Sharif was previously the subject of a separate fitness to practice inquiry, at the Medical Council. In 2011, the GP was found guilty of poor professional performance in relation to a Cork-based patient with a history of cardiac problems, who had collapsed at home.

The inquiry continues today.


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