Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

Doctor found guilty of misconduct

Dr Jarlath O'Donohoe treated the toddler in April 2000
Dr Jarlath O'Donohoe treated the toddler in April 2000

A doctor from County Fermanagh has been found guilty of serious professional misconduct over his treatment of a toddler in the Erne hospital in 2000.

Seventeen-month-old Lucy Crawford, from Letterbreen, died after the drip she was placed on was mismanaged.

The panel found that Dr Jarlath O'Donohoe, a consultant paediatrician, had not acted in Lucy's best interests and provided substandard care.

His record keeping was found to be "deplorable and inexcusable".

Dr O'Donohoe, who wiped away tears as he spoke about Lucy's death, escaped suspension after the General Medical Council ruled he was not a risk to patients.

The consultant paediatrician treated the toddler in April 2000, when she was brought into the Erne hospital with gastro-enteritis.

Sodium imbalance

She was put on a drip, suffered brain swelling and later died after being transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

An inquest found that her death was caused by an imbalance of sodium, brought about by mismanagement of the drip.

The GMC panel criticised Dr O'Donohoe for failing to calculate an "acceptable plan of fluid replacement", for not making a record when Lucy was admitted, and for not ensuring that nursing staff knew of an adequate fluid replacement plan or system for monitoring its progress.

It also found that a record he made two days later was inaccurate and misleading, and that the fluid regime set out in his record was not monitored or checked, and in any case was not appropriate for the child.

The panel said it took account of the fact that Dr O'Donohoe's misconduct related to one patient over a relatively short space of time, but said the potential consequences of the misconduct were serious and placed his patient at an unnecessary risk of harm.


It said it was reluctant to deprive the medical profession of an otherwise competent and useful doctor "who presents no danger to patients and members of the public".

Lucy Crawford's death was one of several cases which was due to the subject of an independent inquiry led by John O'Hara QC.

In each of the deaths fluid management was believed to be a factor.

However last year the Crawford family requested that their daughter's death should no longer be part of the inquiry.

The health minister Michael McGimpsey is still considering whether certain aspects of her case are relevant to the inquiry into the death of another child, Raychel Ferguson.

In total the inquiry will examine the cases of four children, all of whom died at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast.

In addition to Raychel Ferguson, who died in 2001, it will examine the cases of Adam Strain who died in 1995, Claire Roberts who died in 1996 and Conor Mitchell who died in 2003.

Some of the children were being treated at other hospitals before being admitted to the Royal.

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