Hospital seeks suspension of gynaecologist who
performed ‘exploratory work’ without consent

St Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny

A SENIOR HOSPITAL consultant at St Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny was the subject of a report by the Ireland East Hospital Group over his failure to obtain consent before carrying out gynaecological “exploratory work” on female patients. 

The Irish Times reported that a report into the behaviour of Prof Ray O’Sullivan is under consideration by the Ireland East Hospital Group. O’Sullivan said he felt he did not need to obtain consent before carrying out the tests on five female patients last year.  The hospital has reported the issue to the Irish Medical Council and has sought O’Sullivan’s suspension. When contacted by TheJournal.ie, the Irish Medical Council said it could not comment on individual cases. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Ireland East Hospital Group confirmed to TheJournal.ie that the group commissioned a review into the incidents and that the report was received last week.  “The CEO is currently considering the content of the report which will be shared with patients and appropriate parties in accordance with due process,” the spokesperson said. The spokesperson said that this could take up to a month to complete.

The tests involve junior hospital staff flushing women’s vaginas with water and inserting a small scope to monitor pressure. O’Sullivan told the Irish Times that he felt consent wasn’t necessary because he was carrying out “exploratory work”. “I felt I didn’t need consent. I didn’t because we weren’t actually doing the research. We were just seeing if a particular procedure that we were planning on doing as part of the research could be done,” he said.

The issue came to light after nurses raised concern over whether the patients had given consent and the procedures had been obtained from an ethical committee. This led to the tests stopping in September. A report was initially commissioned from Prof Peter Doran, a medical researcher in University College Dublin, by the hospital. This report was critical of O’Sullivan’s failure to obtain consent from his patients.