“Drogheda debacle hysterics”

"Drogheda debacle hysterics"

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Maurice Neligan is a cardiac surgeon. He has a column in the Irish Times Health Supplement.

The column on the right is from the 21st March.

The Drogheda debacle has provoked much concern and debate. Some commentaries were informed and thoughtful, others were merely hysterical.

Hysterical. A poor choice of words I would have thought, given its root. Or, perhaps, a telling one.

Doctors were to be circumscribed, evaluated and monitored in a way that applied to no other profession. It was even proposed that there be a lay majority on the Medical Council.

There were strident calls from some quarters for what was termed ‘a whistleblower’s charter’, for whistleblower, read informer…If someone has serious allegations to make they should be prepared to stand over them. They should also understand the subject matter about which they are implying malfeasance.

Informers have a poor track record in Irish life and I do not think special protection is warrented. If somebody has concerns, let them voice them and in substantiating them lies their protection.

From the Neary Report, (pp 32-33) let’s look and see what happened there when people voiced their concerns.

No one made a formal complaint and no one questioned openly.

Footnote 2: A patient complained about Dr. Neary through her Solicitor in 1980. She did not proceed as she had been assured in legal correspondence that an obstetric hysterectomy was extremely rare and only carried out in the presence of an intractable haemorrhage. Another patient engaged a Solicitor 1998 complaining of her treatment, including peripartum hysterectomy, carried out in January of the same year.
Footnote 3: A junior anaesthetist who had completed 6 months training at the Coombe was very seriously concerned in early 1998.
Footnote 4: Several junior midwives were concerned from 1996 and especially when a midwife who had trained outside the Lourdes joined the staff in 1997.
Footnote 5: One of the pathologists had concerns in 1981. Another and recently appointed pathologist had serious concerns in 1998.
Footnote 6: The Matron of the Maternity Unit was concerned in 1979 and 1980 and again in the mid 1990s
Footnote 7: A temporary tutor who was also a sister in the MMMs tried to voice concerns in 1980

And yet all these concerns trailed into the sand.

Dr Neligan closed his column with this patient friendly thought.

We’re still going to need the doctors for a while and maybe it would not be a good idea to piss them off unnecessarily.


  • copernicus says:

    We’re still going to need the doctors for a while and maybe it would not be a good idea to piss them off unnecessarily.

    A very civilised threat from the man holding the scalpel. Now where did I leave my copy of From Hell?

  • plurabella says:

    Perhaps the doctor in question should reacquaint himself with the following:
    “I swear by Apollo the physician, by Æsculapius, Hygeia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgement, the following Oath.

    “To consider dear to me as my parents him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and if necessary to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art if they so desire without fee or written promise; to impart to my sons and the sons of the master who taught me and the disciples who have enrolled themselves and have agreed to the rules of the profession, but to these alone the precepts and the instruction.

    I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

    To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death.

    Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion.

    But I will preserve the purity of my life and my art.

    I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.

    In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.

    All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.

    If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.”

    Perhaps he who wrote the article should also. Perhaps doctors should begin to view their profession as less of a route to wealth and status, and more of a committment to their art. (Did you see that Pink Pig fly past….)

    As someone said to me recently, “Have you ever seen a poor doctor/dentist/accountant/lawyer/politician?” Good question, anyone on for answering it?

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