Doctor says patient claims of misconduct ‘disturbing’

© The Irish Independent

A consultant obstetrician, who is facing 10 allegations of professional misconduct, cannot explain a direct conflict between his evidence and that of his patient and her husband.

On the third day of an inquiry hearing allegations against him, Dr Patrick (Gerry) Rafferty said he was “disturbed” while listening to the testimony of the couple.

Dr Rafferty, who has a private practice at Mount Carmel Hospital in Churchtown, Dublin 14, was giving evidence to a Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry about his treatment of Michelle Howe, who suffered an ectopic pregnancy in 2008.


She underwent emergency surgery just days after she alleges Dr Rafferty told her that her pregnancy was not ectopic.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo develops outside of the womb and, if left untreated, is potentially fatal.

Dr Rafferty has maintained that in a phone call on June 6, 2008, he told Mrs Howe that her pregnancy was ectopic.

He faces six allegations of professional misconduct in relation to his treatment of Mrs Howe, including that he failed to admit her for a laparoscopy exam and that he failed to make adequate arrangements in advance to admit her to hospital.

Dr Rafferty also faces a further four allegations of professional misconduct in relation to his treatment of another patient, Cathy Coyle.

He is contesting all but one of the allegations in both cases.

Mrs Howe and her husband have given evidence that Dr Rafferty told them he was concerned that Mrs Howe was having an uncompleted pregnancy and recommended she undergo two hormone tests two days apart to see whether her pregnancy was normal, non-continuing (miscarriage) or ectopic.

Yesterday, Dr Rafferty said this appointment could not have happened as he was on annual leave at the time.

“I do concede, however, that it would be extremely unlike the Howes to tell lies but that’s not how I remember it,” Dr Rafferty said in response to questioning from JP McDowell, for the CEO of the Medical Council.

Mr McDowell referred to how Dr Rafferty had initially insisted he had not met the Howes at all, before changing his position last week.

“I think generally you don’t have a good recollection of events,” Mr McDowell said.

Earlier, a medical expert, Dr Anthony Smith of Manchester City Hospital, said even if the committee accepts Dr Rafferty’s account, his behaviour still fell short of standards expected of a clinician.

The hearing has been adjourned until March 22.

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