Wednesday, 1 February 2006
Strategy for Men's Health: Statements (Resumed).
I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Seán Power, to the House. I will have sufficient time to finish a point which I believe to have some practical application and which comes from my own limited experience of hospitals.
I have had some difficulties with my prostate which obliged me to be taken into hospital for an examination. It is a fairly simple and routine matter entailing the insertion of a fibre optic camera. As one is knocked out for this procedure, I thought it would be all right, would cause no bother and so on. However, the insertion of such a device into the urethra has a tendency to dislodge germs. Moreover, particularly if the surgeon fumbles somewhat or encounters some kind of problem, it can also create bleeding. In a small number of cases, this can lead to infection. I ended up with septicaemia, an extremely serious infection, was hospitalised for a number of weeks as a result and was quite desperately ill.
However, it is important that men know this need not happen. I was informed that this happens once in every 3,000 procedures. Consequently, given the low incidence level, antibiotic cover is not provided. However, four or five of the men in a gym which I attend in the centre of Dublin have experienced exactly the same infection. Hence, I believe the rate is considerably higher than one in 3,000.
Septicaemia is very dangerous. It is extraordinarily weakening, extremely painful and disorientating. I went into a form of shock, my temperature rose and fell repeatedly, I was unable to hold the telephone and was half-hallucinating.
It is important that a patient discuss with his doctor whether he or she thinks it appropriate to get full antibiotic cover. Were I to have this procedure again, I would insist on it. I should note that I have had the procedure performed again in another hospital with an excellent surgeon and I experienced only mild discomfort. I am not sure whether it a question of the skill of the surgeon but I know that there is a serious risk in that regard.
If I may finish the point, I was not encouraged on my way into the hospital by listening to a radio programme which discussed the prostatectomy operation and reported that among the fairly common side effects were impotence and incontinence. I am not sure how true that is but patients need the truth.
I thank the Cathaoirleach for his indulgence. I look forward to continuing the debate on the next occasion because there are important issues to raise, including testicular cancer. I also possess a series of quite worrying statistics on the incidence of prostate cancer and of mortality in this country and I look forward to putting them on the record.