Chief executive of St John’s Hospital Tim Kennelly has ordered the probe and contacted the doctor who made the accusation.
The doctor, who now works in another hospital, says a patient died when a crisis arose while two intern doctors were left on their own, contrary to hospital policy, which states they should be accompanied by a Senior House Officer (SHO).
The junior doctors were at the start of their internship in St John’s and were on duty at a weekend when two patients became crisis cases at the same time at opposite ends of a corridor, according to the doctor who made the allegation.
That doctor works at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and was a junior doctor at St John’s at the time.
She said the policy at St John’s was to have one Senior House Officer (SHO) and one intern working during weekend shifts. However, the doctor said this policy was regularly broken in St John’s.
The doctor said the patient may have died anyway, but it was very wrong to have placed two interns in such a situation.
After finishing college, newly-qualified doctors have to work one year as interns in hospitals before they can register.
The doctor said the two junior staff, who were “left on their own” when the crisis arose in St John’s, were “brand-new interns”.
The Irish Medical Organisation has urged the Medical Council to offer guidance to interns, specifically about their rights and responsibilities, instead of just to hospital management.
In response to the allegation, Mr Kennelly said: “We have written to the doctor in question for specific information to investigate this thoroughly and respond as a matter or urgency. We take this matter very seriously.”
He said the hospital had only been made aware of the allegation last Thursday.
Hospital management has asked consultants to cooperate in the investigation.
St John’s Hospital is under the direct management of the Department of Health and not the Health Service Executive Mid-West, the former Mid-Western Health Board.