These were patients who had “other very serious underlying illnesses”, according to the HSE.
An independent audit of spinal procedures carried out by a surgeon at Galway University Hospitals (GUH) found “serious concerns” in relation to four cases. The independent experts also commented on “different aspects of the care of some of the other patients” the HSE said yesterday.
The Medical Council has been “made aware” of the findings of the audit, the HSE said. A spokesperson for the Medical Council said they “can’t comment on individual complaints or confirm that they have received a complaint about an individual doctor”.
The surgeon was on the General Medical Council register in the UK but was erased for administration reasons. A spokesperson for the GMC said the most common reason for erasure was non-payment of registration fees. It could also be due to failure to respond to communications from the GMC, she said.
Almost 200 cases were reviewed as part of the audit which examined the work of the surgeon during the period January 1, 2013 to November 14, 2014 when he worked at both University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park University Hospital.
The audit was conducted by two independent orthopaedic surgeons and was “part of the quality management systems in place in Saolta University Health Care Group”, the HSE said. The surgeon was advised of the audit process and resigned from GUH.
Asked if they knew if he was practicing in another jurisdiction, the HSE said: “This is a question for the Medical Council.”
Asked if any of the patients affected had initiated legal action, the HSE said: “We don’t comment on issues relating to individual patients.”
The HSE said GUH has engaged directly with all of the spinal surgery patients (or their families) whose cases were audited and offered them any services that they may require.
“This includes, if necessary, an independent clinical review. The hospital will continue to engage directly with the patients and families concerned. The hospital has also been in contact with patients’ GPs.”
The HSE said “for the vast majority of patients, the independent experts did not raise any significant concerns”.
GUH said it would “like to reassure the public that there is no ongoing patient safety concern in relation to the spinal or other orthopaedic services at the hospital”.
Any distress caused to patients or their families was regretted and anyone with concerns could contact helpline number 18006594589 from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.