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Hyponatraemia Inquiry doctor faces medical standards panel

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A doctor involved in the Hyponatraemia Inquiry has been called to appear in front of a professional standards panel

A doctor involved in the Hyponatraemia Inquiry has been called to appear in front of a professional standards panel

A doctor involved in the Hyponatraemia Inquiry has been called to appear in front of a professional standards panel

A doctor involved in the Hyponatraemia Inquiry has been called to appear in front of a professional standards panel.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) has set a date for a hearing into the fitness to practise of Dr Robert James Murray Quinn starting in February.

Dr Quinn is the first doctor to be called in front of the MPTS since the publication of the damning Hyponatraemia Inquiry report in January this year. He was a paediatric consultant who was working at Altnagelvin Area Hospital when he was asked to review the care given to Lucy Crawford prior to her death.

Lucy, the youngest child of a family of three, was admitted to the Erne Hospital in Enniskillen on April 12, 2000.

She was transferred to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children the following day and died on April 14, 2000 at just 17 months old.

John O'Hara, chair of the Hyponatraemia Inquiry, found that "Lucy's death was caused by a glaring medical error".

Lucy died as a result of hyponatraemia, which is the term for a low level of sodium in the blood stream causing brain cells to swell with too much water.

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She was one of five children whose treatment and deaths in Northern Ireland hospitals were examined by Mr O'Hara.

In 2008 her parents asked for personal reasons that her death be removed from the inquiry.

While that wish was respected, the inquiry's chairman said the issues raised by her death remained vital to the wider community.

In his subsequent report, Mr O'Hara raised concerns about the decision to appoint Dr Quinn to review Lucy's care, given the fact that he knew some of the doctors who had treated her.

He said: "It is clear to me that Dr Quinn did not approach his task with the necessary degree of professional detachment.

"His familiarity with the organisation and the people who had retained him plainly influenced him."

Mr O'Hara added: "(Dr Quinn) should not have carried out this work on behalf of the trust, and should not have been asked to do so."

The inquiry chair also criticised some of Dr Quinn's findings, which he said "individually and cumulatively gave the trust reassurance when its clinicians ought to have been subject to criticism".

The MPTS hearing in February will consider allegations that following Lucy's death, Dr Quinn "attended a meeting and failed to highlight comments made by a colleague in (Lucy's) medical records or take account that the fluids given to the patient could have been a contributory factor."

It is also alleged that, in June 2000, Dr Quinn prepared a written report in which he failed to record information relating to Lucy, reached the wrong conclusion in respect of fluids administered, and gave a misleading impression of the care provided to Lucy.

According to the General Medical Council (GMC), Dr Quinn is currently registered without a licence to practise.


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