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Dublin: 13 °C Monday 26 August, 2019
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Heart attack misdiagnosis doctor guilty of poor performance

Eugene Erasmus said a chest pain was caused by residue from a chest infection. It was a heart attack.

Image: brykmantra via Flickr

A DOCTOR who failed to carry out an ECG test on a patient reporting symptoms similar to those of a heart attack has been found guilty of poor professional performance by a hearing of a Irish Medical Council’s fitness-to-practice inquiry.

Dr Eugene Erasmus (71) said there was no ECG machine in his clinic in Skibbereen, Co Cork, when James Taylor called SouthDoc and presented himself to the clinic complaining of chest pains. After arriving, Taylor told Erasmus that his symptoms were similar to those he had experienced years beforehand, when he had had a heart attack.

Erasmus insisted he had told Taylor to attend a clinic in Cork City, where an ECG machine would be present, but that Taylor – who was due to return to the UK shortly afterward – had declined to do so.

This claim was denied by Taylor and his wife, who said they would have followed such an instruction if it had been given. SouthDoc, meanwhile, says there are ECG machines in all of its clinics.

Erasmus had arrived at his instruction having taken his medical history, and the advice of his agency Locumotion on how to deal with chest pain.

Taylor had visited his own GP after returning to the UK the following day, who immediately summoned an ambulance. Tests on Taylor showed enzyme levels consistent with a cardiac attack.

Mary Culliton, chair of the fitness-to-practise committee, said the committee believed an ECG machine had been available to Erasmus at the Skibbereen clinic.

The three-person committee found that Erasmus had had no justification to say Taylor’s chest pains had been caused by high blood pressure, and that Erasmus had failed to carry out, or arrange, all appropriate investigations including an ECG. Erasmus was censured in writing.

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Gavan Reilly

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