Consultant Anaesthesiologist

Dr. Aoife Doolan

Aoife Doolan works as a Consultant Anaesthesiologist with a special interest in intensive care medicine at TUH. She is the Echo Lead in our Anaesthesiology and ICU Departments. Echocardiology is widely used to diagnose and monitor critically ill patients providing the medical team with vital information about the patient’s heart.

Innovation project

In collaboration with cardiology and surgery, and with funding from the Hospital Foundation, Aoife has been able to set up a high-risk anaesthesia transthoracic echo clinic.

She says, “We are also further developing the ICU echo service, particularly out of hours. ICU patients need serial echos as part of advanced hemodynamic monitoring, a process which checks the patient’s blood circulation to evaluate how well their heart is working.” Aoife also supervises a twice-weekly echo training programme in the ICU.

What motivated you to get involved with this innovation project? 

Dr. Doolan says, “Point of care echocardiography in anaesthesia and intensive care has been growing exponentially in the last 10-15 years. Echo is crucial in differentiating shock and starting emergency therapy in the ICU. In 2017, the NHS outlined standards of care that should be achieved for diagnostic imaging and this included echocardiography being available within one hour in an emergency. Basic echo training is now a core competency for intensive care medicine trainees in Ireland.”

The Consultant Anaesthesiologist finished her training in 2019 and recognised the need for advanced echo training in anaesthesiology and ICU. She says “At that time, there were no anaesthesiology or ICU Consultants accredited in advanced adult transthoracic echocardiography in Ireland. I gained adult transthoracic echocardiography accreditation at proficiency level with the British Society of Echocardiography in 2023, whilst on a critical care echocardiography fellowship at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. I am motivated to develop TUH as one of the leading centres for echo in anaesthesiology and ICU.”

When Dr. Doolan returned from her fellowship, she was aware there was an expanding surgical portfolio and given her new skillset, she saw an opportunity to set up a high-risk anaesthesia echo clinic. She says, “This is a new and innovative project. Alongside one other hospital, we are the first in Ireland to have developed a high-risk anaesthesia echo clinic led by anaesthesiologists. Our aim is that this Echo Clinic will reduce surgical waiting lists, reduce cancellations and improve patient outcomes.”

What has been your biggest learning concerning innovation? 

Aoife says, “I have learned that innovation requires collaboration and we should remember to reach out to our colleagues for advice and support. Innovation takes time and planning and we must have patience! I have also learned that it is crucial to be well-informed before commencing any new project.”

What advice would you give someone who has an idea for change? 

The Consultant Anaesthesiologist’s advice on this question is to, “Reach out to your colleagues. Speak to as many people as possible, as early as possible. Staff in TUH are very supportive and help may come in many different ways. It is important to make contact with the Innovation Office concerning queries on funding.”

What idea or challenge would you like to be your next innovation?

Dr. Doolan plans to set up an Advanced Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine Echo Training Programme in the Hospital. “I aim to secure funding for more echo machines and more licences for the high-risk anaesthesia echo clinic and ICU. Dedicated Consultant supervision, will provide a unique training opportunity to trainees and this will help support the Hospital’s application for a final year Intensive Care Medicine Echo Fellow from the Joint Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine.”