Updated: 01/12/16 : 04:57:09
Printable Version   Bookmark and Share Share This

current

Medical inquiry on former Sligo doctor continues

An inquiry into professional misconduct by a former Sligo based doctor heard yesterday afternoon that a mother was given a drug that put her at serious risk during the birth of her sixth child.

Dr Vimla Sharma told an ongoing Medical Council inquiry that she was "shocked" when she learned that Dr Andrea Hermann had given a blood-thinning drug to a mother who was already at risk of heavy bleeding.

RTÉ reports that Dr Hermann, who previously worked as an obstetrics and gynaecology registrar at Sligo General Hospital, faces allegations of professional misconduct and poor professional performance, as well as a contravention of a provision of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.

Dr Hermann is facing a number of clinical claims in relation to the care she provided to six patients, who attended the hospital between August 2013 and February 2014.

Dr Sharma, a consultant gynaecologist at Sligo University Hospital, told the inquiry that on the evening of 12 August 2013, she was the consultant on call, and so she went to check in with a mother who was labouring with her sixth baby.

She saw that the mother had cellulitis on her right leg and noted with concern that Dr Hermann had arranged for the mother to be given the blood thinner Innohep, or Tinzaparin, an anti-coagulant used to treat deep venous thrombosis.

"I was shocked because Innohep is an anti-coagulant, which we avoid during labour," said Dr Sharma.

She explained that as the mother had given birth multiple times, this put her at a greater risk of blood loss - and that Innohep also placed her at risk for this.

Dr Sharma said she was also concerned because the administration of Innohep had implications for the rest of labour.

"If you use Innohep during labour, you can't have an epidural for 12 hours," she said, adding that a mother, after taking the drug, can also not have a spinal anaesthetic, if an emergency caesarean section is needed.

One of the allegations faced by Dr Hermann, which she admits to, is that she prescribed Tinzaparin to this patient when it was not appropriate to do so.

Dr Sharma told the inquiry that she spoke with the patient, and then with Dr Hermann, telling her it was a serious mistake. The mother later gave birth without any complications.

Procedure

A mother-of-three told the inquiry how Dr Hermann performed a procedure used to induce labour without her knowledge or consent.

The mother, referred to as Patient B, told the inquiry that Dr Andrea Hermann performed a membrane sweep on her during an antenatal appointment.

The Irish Times reports that Patient B, who lives in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, met Dr Hermann on August 15th, 2013 for an antenatal appointment. Patient B’s baby, her second, was due on August 27th, 2013.

Patient B said the labour for her first child lasted only six hours, and so herself and her family were on “high alert” for this second baby, which they expected to come very quickly.

Patient B said it was just herself and Dr Hermann in the consultation room and at first the appointment went normally. Once they had discussed how the pregnancy was going, Dr Hermann asked Patient B to get up on the examination table.

Dr Hermann checked the baby’s heartbeat, and then performed an internal examination on Patient B.

Patient B told the inquiry that there was to discussion in relation to the internal exam, which became so uncomfortable that Patient B said she started to squirm. She asked Dr Hermann what she was doing, and Dr Hermann said she was doing a sweep.

A membrane sweep, which is designed to separate the membranes of the amniotic sac from a mother’s cervix, is done in order to induce labour.

Patient B said she did not know at the time what a sweep was, but when she asked Dr Hermann about what the consequences would be, she said Dr Hermann told her: “If I was a betting woman, you’ll have this baby by Sunday.”

Patient B said that when she heard this, she was “shocked”, especially as she wanted the birth to be a natural process and to discuss any possible interventions, such as a membrane sweep, with her husband before they took place.

“I was rather alarmed it [the sweep] would happen without consultation or advice,” Patient B added.

Patient B said she also became rather alarmed because her husband was due to be working far from home that particular weekend. She said it also happened that other family members were not around at that time.

She said that after the appointment she called her husband, who also went into an alarmed state.

Thankfully, she said, Dr Hermann was wrong about the onset of labour coming so soon after the sweep, and Patient B gave birth to a healthy baby girl at the end of the month.

Did Not Disclose

Along with the clinical allegations against her, RTÉ states that Dr Hermann also faces claims that she did not disclose to the Sligo hospital the conditions attached to her registration with the Irish Medical Council, although Dr Hermann denies these claims.

Dr Hermann was the subject of a previous inquiry at the Medical Council, in 2009 and 2010.

On foot of this, the Medical Council recommended that Dr Hermann be suspended for one year and that certain conditions be attached to her registration, such as agreeing to certain supervision, once she began work again.

Martha Saba, the manager of the Medical Manpower - or HR - at the Sligo hospital, said Dr Hermann was interviewed for the post of obstetrics and gynaecology registrar on 28 June 2013.

Ms Saba said Dr Hermann admitted that she had some previous difficulties with the Medical Council.

One of the consultants conducting the interview, Dr Heather Langan, then asked Dr Hermann whether she had any conditions attached to her registration.

Ms Saba told the inquiry that Dr Hermann said she did not have any conditions attached to her registration, and that she just needed an offer of a job and to pay the registration fee with the Medical Council in order to be reinstated.

In late July, Ms Saba received an email from the Medical Council confirming that Dr Hermann had been reinstated on the register, and that they would be sending a letter with the list of conditions in the post.

The following morning, Ms Saba looked up Dr Hermann on the Medical Council's website and saw she was registered.

She told the inquiry she did not recall whether she clicked on Dr Hermann's registration number, which one must do to see any restrictions placed on a doctor.

She said she never received the letter outlining conditions from the Medical Council.

Ms Saba said during 2013 recruiting registrars to the obstetrics and gynaecology departments was a "national problem" for hospitals in Ireland.

The inquiry continues today.