“I don’t care”, the words of Dr. John McKenna when told a patient had fallen out of bed.
While we are used to seeing Ministers for Health that resemble species further down the food chain than ourselves it should be welcome to see doctors capable of triathlons. However an extraordinary case comes to attention today, whereby a doctor that has admitted falsifying blood tests and several other breaches of medical care, partly because he was training for Ironman has been
fired made Senior House Officer at the Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin
The charges all relate to the first half of 2011.
- In defence of his refusal to attend a patient during the night, he told the hospital he was a “high-level athlete” ; he was called at 12.45am to see a patient who had fallen out of bed, and he refused to go. When the nurse explained the patient had to be reviewed, he said “I don’t care”, and when her condition was explained, he said “I don’t care” a second time.
- On March 23rd, Dr McKenna falsified blood test results for a patient he was referring to the hospital’s Warfarin clinic. When the Warfarin clinic nurse discovered this, he admitted it and said “they never noticed in St Vincent’s”, the inquiry heard.
- On April 1st, Dr McKenna also prescribed an excessive dosage of morphine.
The inquiry did not find against Dr. McKenna who has undertaken not to do it again (see here)
What the hell is going on and who interviews these people for positions? While we are well removed from the process and aren’t privy to the details, you have to admit the ‘optics’ look bad on this one, a Doctor called for discipline by St.Michael’s in Dun Laoghaire gets a position of responsibility a year later at the Crumlin Children’s Hospital.
More on the story from Fiona Gartland in the Irish Times
Overwork is definitely an issue in the HSE, ask any of the nurses in Copper’s who can barely stand up at the end of the night! Although, joking aside, it is a serious problem and most frontline staff suffer from stress and associated problems due to overwork, long hours etc. Dr McKenna cites the long hours as a mitigating factor in his defence – hours that are in breach of European working time directives.
Other issues health-related from a report on GPs in yesterday’s Times:
1. Figures show that Irish GPs are the highest paid in the OECD and earn the second highest multiple of average wages
2. Ireland is the only EU health system that does not offer universal coverage of primary care. Gaps in health coverage create financial barriers to access, particularly for those just above the threshold for medical cards
3. Ireland is one of only three countries to charge “non-poor” households for essential prescription drugs and one of only six to charge for attending hospital emergency departments. It says the hospital charge is much higher than elsewhere – €100 compared to only €2-€30 in other countries that charge
4. Commonly used medicines cost up to 24 times more in Ireland than they do in New Zealand (comparable in size)
5. It costs €51 on average to visit a GP here compared to €22 in France.