Sunday, December 07, 2008

British doctor who carried out unnecessary hysterectomies still fine to work in the NHS

A doctor who left two women unable to have children after carrying out unnecessary operations "for research" has been allowed to continue working. Dr Martin Quinn, a consultant gynaecologist, was found guilty of misconduct by the General Medical Council (GMC) which ruled he should not have carried out hysterectomies on both women. He was suspended from working for six months but will be allowed to practise after that time.

One of the women involved said that she was "bewildered" that a consultant who had "terrified" her into believing that radical surgery was her only option would still be allowed to work in the NHS. The GMC found that Dr Quinn had failed to act in the best interests of both women. The panel found him guilty of misconduct and that his fitness to practise was impaired.

Dr George Lodge, chairman of the panel, told Dr Quinn that his actions represented "misconduct so serious as to call into question whether you should continue as a registered doctor, either with restrictions on registration or at all." He added that the panel was concerned that he had allowed his research interests to "intrude unacceptably" into his care of patients. But the panel suspended Dr Quinn for six months, saying they were satisfied there was no evidence of a general lack of competence and no previous evidence of misconduct.

Dr Quinn, who has been a doctor for 25 years, was suspended from his 80,000 pounds a year role with Hope Hospital in Salford, Greater Manchester in April 2005 and his employment terminated in May last year. In recent months he has been working at St George's Hospital in London. A spokesman for St George's said: "Martin Quinn has been working at St George's as an unpaid honorary clinical fellow since June this year. In this role, he has been supervised at all times when in contact with patients."

David Dalton, chief executive of Salford Royal, the trust which runs Hope Hospital, said: "We have always and will continue to put the needs of patients first." All 600 patients who were treated by Dr Quinn at Hope Hospital between September 2002 and April 2005 have had their cases reviewed and a number have been offered extra support by the hospital.

One of the women who had an unnecessary operation spoke of the pain the surgery had caused her family. The 32-year-old mother-of-two from Salford told Dr Quinn that she and her husband wanted to try for another child but he convinced her that she needed a hysterectomy. She was "bewildered" that he had not been banned from practising medicine, she said. The woman, who did not want to be named, said: "He took my fertility and prevented my partner and I from having another baby. "He terrified me into thinking a hysterectomy was the only safe option." She added: "I just wanted justice and the reassurance of knowing he will not be able to work in gynaecology in the future and mess up other people's lives."


Australia: Public hospital bed shortage forces vulnerable women into wards with men

QUEENSLAND'S public hospital bed crisis is now so acute that women, including some with breast cancer, have been put into wards with men. Gail Ramsay said she was horrified when she was admitted to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane last week and was taken to a ward containing three men. Ms Ramsay, who is undergoing chemotherapy, has lost her hair and wears a prosthetic breast and a wig. "At night-time when you go to bed, you take all that off," she said.

"I said to the nurse: 'Look, it's embarrassing.' "She said: 'Keep your curtain pulled. If you want to be treated, you've got to be prepared to share with men. That's common practice now. That's what happens.' " Ms Ramsay, from the Ipswich suburb of Riverview, said she was only moved to a women's ward after she complained and "ran out of the room".

The 52-year-old, who was in hospital for three days after doctors found a blood clot near her heart, said she met other women there who had been treated in men's wards. "They didn't like it either," she said.

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Chris Davis said the practice was common in most public hospitals throughout the state because of the lack of beds. "I think this is another one of the examples where we've actually gone backwards with our hospitals over the past 20 years by not being able to offer people gender-specific wards," Dr Davis said.

He said he had been told by a colleague this week that beds at the Rockhampton Hospital had been set up in staff offices to accommodate patients. "When the system is running under that sort of pressure, people will have to accept a bed wherever and hope that their privacy and dignity is maintained," he said. "It's not a comfortable situation for a lot of people, very understandably."


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