Consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist Dr Declan Egan, who practises at University Hospital Galway and runs the private Galway Fertility Unit in Rahoon, should have sought the consent of a Galwaywoman before he clipped both her fallopian tubes but argues his action was medically justified, a fitness to practice enquiry was told this week.
Lorna McKeogh (36 ) was giving evidence at the inquiry of the Medical Council into a fertility doctor who carried out the procedure on her.
Ms McKeogh, a sales executive from Mountbellew, Co Galway, says the decision by Dr Egan to clip both of the tubes, rather than just one, has rendered her infertile.
As a result of Dr Egan’s actions, she has been deprived of the opportunity to bear children naturally and may only be able to conceive using IVF, an option that involves a great deal of stress and expense. Ms McKeogh and her husband Darragh say they were greatly upset when they later received promotional material on IVF services at Dr Egan’s private clinic on two occasions.
The allegation against Dr Egan is that he performed a clipping of both left and right hydrosalpinges (fallopian tubes ) “in circumstances where this was not consistent with the consent form dated June 2, 2010”.
Arising from this, he faces an allegation that he failed to meet the standards of competence that could reasonably be expected of a consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist.
Dr Egan performed a bilateral tubal ligation on Ms McKeogh, who was 32 at the time, at the Galway Fertility Unit on June 2, 2010.
She had been referred by her GP for gynaecological treatment after suffering a number of miscarriages. Dr Egan, who met her for the first time in theatre, told her after the procedure that he had clipped her left fallopian tube in addition to the right one, though the consent form mentioned only the right tube.
In evidence, Ms McKeogh said when she queried his action, Dr Egan replied: “Do you want to carry on miscarrying?”
When she became upset, he said: “What did you want me to do - stitch you back up, wake you up and ask your permission?”
She said Dr Egan told her he would be in touch with her in relation to conceiving by IVF. Some days later, she received literature from his clinic inviting her to an advice session about IVF, at a cost of €150. She was “so mad” about it, she recalled.
Ms McKeogh and her husband claimed Dr Egan was “dismissive” of their concerns but Dr Egan in his statement said he had no recollection of this. If he was perceived as dismissive, he said he apologised.
He said he clipped the tubes in good faith in order to improve the chance of conception by IVF. This course of action was medically justified and he had thought “long and hard” about it before embarking on it.
Asked about his claim that he acted “in good faith”, Ms McKeogh said “it wasn’t his decision to make, it was mine, about my body”. Her husband was “only 10 feet away” at the time but he was not consulted either.
Last year, she had her fallopian tubes reconnected at the Rotunda Hospital, which makes it possible that she could conceive naturally once again. Ms McKeogh described the restoration of this option as “life-changing”.
“Four years of my life were taken away until we found it could be reversed.”
Dr Egan will give evidence when the hearing resumes at a later date.