Cork garda fears repeat of cancer error

A CORK Garda superintendent with terminal cancer fears there could be a repeat of the kind of medical error that destroyed his life.

Supt Martin Dorney, a father-of-three from Waterfall, Co Cork, is terminally ill and has been given less than a year to live. “It’s too late for me, but I just hope it is not too late for somebody else,” he said.

The Irish Medical Council’s fitness to practise committee has recommended that his doctor, Dr Patrick Joseph Lee, be suspended from practising for three months.

Dr Lee admitted skimming over Supt Dorney’s medical report and missing a recommendation for further surgery in 2003.

The doctor, who has a practice in Ballincollig, Co Cork, also admitted that he tried to cover up his mistake when Supt Dorney was found to have cancer six years later.

The doctor has declined to make any comment on the committee’s recommendation, which will be sent to the High Court for confirmation.

In a statement issued through his solicitor yesterday, Supt Dorney said it would be “an awful shame” if the lessons that should be learned as a consequence of Dr Lee’s failure were not learned.

He urged both the College of General Practitioners and the consultants involved in the issuing of results to GPs to review their procedures and see how they can be tightened up. “I am not vindictive or bitter, but I am concerned that this situation could reoccur and affect other patients in the devastating way it has affected me.”

Irish Patients Association chairman Stephen McMahon said healthcare system reform should not be preceded by funerals.

Mr McMahon said there were clearly lessons to be learned from Supt Dorney’s situation so patients were not put at risk.

He felt, however, that there needed to be greater transparency between the seriousness of the language used in the handing down of the suspension and the length of time that the suspension was for.

“The recommendation by the Medical Council’s fitness to practise committee is a very serious admonishment but there needs to be clearer guidelines on the seriousness of offences and the length of suspension,” he said.


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