The HSE has commissioned an external review into orthopaedic surgery carried out at the CHI at Temple Street hospital following “ a number of serious spinal surgical incidents”.
The HSE review of one surgeon’s work includes concerns linked to 17 families and includes a family whose child has since died.
CHI are also separately looking at allegations in relation to the implanting of unauthorised devices in children and has spoken to two families about this.
The Irish surgeon at the centre of the allegations is currently not conducting surgeries and has been referred to the Irish Medical Council.
It is understood this surgeon is well-known in the world of spinal surgery and the incidents have caused widespread shock and concern among families.
A HSE spokeswoman said: “This review arises from very serious concerns identified by CHI since last year relating to poor surgical outcomes in spinal surgery at Temple Street, the use of a certain spinal surgical technique and the use of unauthorised implantable devices.”
The HSE said senior management at CHI was made aware of safety concerns late last year, relating to the “ treatment of a small number of patients with Spina Bifida who had spinal surgery at CHI at Temple Street”.
These concerns include “poor clinical outcomes of some complex spinal surgery, including a high incidence of post-operative complications and infections, and two particularly serious surgical incidents, which occurred in July and September 2022.”
Two reviews were commissioned at that point by CHI, one internal and one external.
These looked at care provided by one consultant to 17 children who had complex spinal surgery at the hospital.
“Of these 17 children, one child sadly died since, and a number of other children suffered significant post-operative complications,” the HSE spokeswoman said.
“These patients and their families already face enormous challenges due to their condition, and CHI deeply regrets the failings in the care provided to them. CHI is engaged with these families on an ongoing basis and will continue to provide support needed.”
The HSE-commissioned external review will be led by a UK-based consultant in Orthopaedics and Trauma who is Head of the Limb Reconstruction Unit at the Royal Liverpool University and Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospitals Selvadurai Nayagam.
She said CHI were also separately made aware of other allegations that “unauthorised devices” were used in a small number of spinal surgeries.
“In addition to the 17 patients in the reviews, CHI has recently met two further families who were affected by this issue, bringing to 19 the total number of families who CHI have met in recent weeks,” she said.
CHI has commissioned a team external to CHI to investigate this, separately to the HSE-commissioned inquiry into the other incidents.
In a statement issued by the HSE, Children’s Health Ireland said: “CHI acknowledges the anxiety that this news may cause to our patients and their families. However, we would like to reassure our patients and their families that everybody known to have been affected has been contacted,” they said.
Dr Allan Goldman, Chief Medical Officer of CHI said: “We deeply regret the impact that the issues identified have had on patients and their families. We welcome the HSE’s external review.”
HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said the review includes a risk assessment of orthopaedic surgery in CHI at Temple Street to be concluded “as soon as practicable and before the end of 2023”.
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