Fitness probe to rule on top surgeon

A medical inquiry is expected to rule later today into allegations of poor professional performance against one the country’s leading paediatric surgeons.

A fitness-to-practise committee of the Irish Medical Council yesterday completed its oral hearing into the case against Martin Corbally, senior consultant at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin.

Prof Corbally, who is currently working at the King Hamad University Hospital in Bahrain, has denied four charges of poor professional performance over his treatment of a two-and-a-half-year-old girl on whom an incorrect tongue operation was performed in Apr 2010.

The toddler, from Co Meath, required an operation to release the fold of skin attaching her upper lip to her gum. However, she underwent a tongue-tie operation instead.

In a closing submission on the fourth day of the inquiry, Eileen Barrington, representing Prof Corbally, said his “slip of the pen”, in which he incorrectly described the procedure in the girl’s medical records, was not why she underwent the incorrect operation.

Ms Barrington said that Prof Corbally’s note relating to a “upper lingual frenulum” did not record the wrong procedure but “a procedure which does not exist”, and the mistake should have been obvious to anyone reading the girl’s notes.

She argued that it was completely inappropriate that such a mistake, which Prof Corbally readily admitted, could be regarded as incompetence leading to a finding of poor professional performance.

Ms Barrington said an incorrect description of the required operation on the hospital’s computer system had caused the error.

She said it was inapprop-riate that allegations that Prof Corbally had inadequately communicated details of the operation when he delegated the surgery to a colleague should be used against Prof Corbally when the problem was due to deficiencies in the Irish healthcare system.

Ms Barrington also criticised the evidence of the Irish Medical Council’s expert witness, a UK paediatric surgeon, Hugh Grant, whom she claimed did not understand the Irish medical system.

Prof Corbally faced a previous fitness to practice hearing in 2010 in relation to his role in which a boy had the wrong kidney removed during an operation.

On that occasion, the case was dramatically concluded when the IMC committee invoked new legislation to terminate proceedings on the basis that Prof Corbally and another colleague gave a number of undertakings about their future medical performance.

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