Monday 23 January 2017

Doctor guilty of botched care insists he did nothing wrong

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

Published 24/10/2011 | 05:00

A DOCTOR found guilty of professional misconduct following a cosmetic surgery scandal remains unrepentant over his shocking behaviour towards patients.

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Hungarian anaesthetist Dr Laszlo Ruscsak (45) -- a former director of the privately owned Haven Cosmetic Surgery in Dublin -- last night broke his silence over the controversy to claim he was innocent of any wrongdoing.

And he claimed the Medical Council hearing into his conduct was "anti-democratic".

Dr Ruscsak, who referred hundreds of Irish patients to hospitals in Hungary for cosmetic surgery, claimed he had no responsibility for any of the medical care they received.

His bizarre claim came despite damning revelations at the Medical Council tribunal, which found him guilty of professional misconduct and poor professional performance for failing to provide proper patient aftercare.

Breaking his silence, Dr Ruscsak told the Irish Independent that he was innocent of any wrongdoing and was merely "assisting" Irish people to get cosmetic surgery operations in Hungary.

He insisted he did not have any duty of care for these patients once they returned to Ireland.

Dr Ruscsak said he was being wrongly blamed for problems they suffered.

"As I personally know very well many famous Hungarian dentists and surgeons it has happened several times that I recommended and assisted Irish people in getting their dental or surgical procedure done in Hungary," he said. "In these cases I functioned not as a doctor but as a mediator."

He claimed he submitted a written defence to the tribunal, which he said was "simply ignored".

"I cannot believe such an anti-democratic process could take place in a country announced to be a democratic one," Dr Ruscsak told the Irish Independent.

However, he failed to explain why he did not return to Ireland to defend himself in person.

The tribunal heard how former patient Lucia Dowd from Lucan in Dublin, was sent for a €7,000 gastric band operation in Hungary after first being examined at Haven's headquarters, which doubled as Dr Ruscsak's flat.

She returned home the day after the surgery and began retching and vomiting in distress.

But when she contacted Dr Ruscsak he told her to calm down and later withdrew her aftercare. The band subsequently had to be removed at Tallaght Hospital.

The Irish Independent has learned that the HSE has now had to pick up the bill for tens of thousands of euro worth of medical care for his patients.

A spokeswoman confirmed that nine of his patients contacted the HSE and it has arranged appropriate aftercare for seven.

One patient declined follow up and another made their own arrangements.

Gastric band patients are at risk of infection or having the tube slip out of place. They are also likely to require an adjustment of the band several times after their initial operation.

The HSE was left to pick up the bill for medical care for seven of Dr Ruscsak's former patients after he fled the country in disgrace last year.

The tribunal, held earlier this month, also heard Dr Ruscsak emailed details about one of his patients to a RTE radio programme, a gross breach of patient confidentiality.

Medical regulatory authorities have yet to decide what sanction he should face.

Dr Ruscsak fled the country after controversy over his behaviour first erupted in September last year.

He was medical director of Haven Cosmetic Surgery and pocketing thousands of euro from Irish patients who paid up to €7,000 a time for cosmetic procedures in Hungary.

Risk

However, several of the patients were left at risk when they were not given any medical aftercare when they returned home from Hungary after major surgery, despite paying €2,000 for the service.

He had also flagrantly breached employment rules by conducting pre-travel examinations of some of his private patients in public hospitals around the country, including in a prefab at Ennis General Hospital, where he was employed as locum anaesthetist.

Tim Mooney (42), from Mullingar, Co Westmeath, who underwent the weight reducing operation last year paid Dr Ruscsak €2,000 for aftercare, which was to be given at Ennis General Hospital.

However, this never materialised and Mr Mooney is now being cared for by doctors in Loughlinstown Hospital.

"I demanded back the €2,000 I paid Dr Ruscsak for aftercare and got it," he said. He fully rejected Dr Ruscsak's defence that he was just a "mediator".

Mr Mooney, who lost eight stone following the operation, added: "Before I left for Hungary he examined me at a prefab in the Ennis hospital.

"I don't accept his claim that he was a mediator. He was the doctor who was supposed to take care of us."

Irish Independent

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