Monday 19 February 2018

Doctor found guilty of professional misconduct

Dr Omar Mohamed at the inquiry. Photo: Frank McGrath
Dr Omar Mohamed at the inquiry. Photo: Frank McGrath

Liz Farsaci

A DOCTOR has been found guilty of poor professional performance and professional misconduct on multiple counts at a disciplinary inquiry.

Dr. Omar Hassan Khalafalla Mohamed – who did not turn up in person for the decision – faced a large number of allegations relating to time he spent working at the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise, Mayo General Hospital and University Hospital Galway.

Today marked the eleventh day of the fitness to practice inquiry at the Medical Council headquarters in Dublin.

Dr. Hassan, who took in the hearing today via telephone, was found guilty of 28 counts of poor professional performance and six counts of professional misconduct.

Dr. Hassan, whose medical registration has already been suspended, denied the allegations throughout the proceedings.

Sanctions against Dr. Hassan, 30, will be determined at a later date.

A number of former colleagues expressed grave concern regarding Dr. Hassan’s clinical abilities throughout the inquiry, which initially began on 4 January.

Two of his former colleagues at Galway were so concerned about Dr. Hassan’s clinical abilities that they looked on the Irish medical register to confirm whether he was actually a registered doctor.

A senior colleague at Galway also told the inquiry that Dr. Hassan’s level of competence was so low that ‘someone off the street’ would do a better job than he did.

The inquiry also heard of a number of bizarre incidents that took place while Dr. Hassan, originally from Sudan, was working as a senior house officer at the three hospitals.

Consultant Odhran Murray, who worked with Dr. Hassan in Galway, previously told the inquiry of an instance in which Dr. Hassan mistook an x-ray of an ankle for an image of an elbow during a training session with colleagues.

Doctors were discussing cases, and Dr. Hassan answered a question regarding an x-ray. Mr. Murray told the inquiry that an image of an ankle went up. Dr. Hassan thought it was an image of an elbow and proceeded to tell everyone about the ‘elbow’ fracture.

‘There was an audible gasp in the room,’ said Mr. Murray, who said he would expect a medical student – let alone a senior house officer such as Dr. Hassan – to know the difference.

Mr. Murray also recalled an instance in which he and Dr. Hassan were scrubbing up in preparation for theatre, so that they would not cause contamination during surgery.

Mr. Murray said he was surprised to see Dr. Hassan re-contaminate his hands by touching a non-sterile area while scrubbing up, as he would expect a medical student to know how to do it properly.

‘I lost all confidence in him when I saw that,’ said Mr. Murray, especially in the context of other issues. ‘This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.’

During the second week of the inquiry, consultant orthopaedic surgeon Aiden Devitt, who worked at University Hospital Galway while Dr. Hassan was there in early 2014, said Dr. Hassan was taken off unsupervised duty after his first weekend on call, after several colleagues raised concerns about Dr. Hassan’s clinical abilities, and patient safety.

Mr. Devitt told Dr. Hassan during the second week of the inquiry: ‘I got the strong sense you genuinely did not understand how basic your deficiencies were.’

However, Mr. Devitt told the inquiry he was more concerned about Dr. Hassan’s apparent unwillingness to learn from others, and his seeming inability to understand the adverse consequences that his lack of knowledge could have on patients.

‘You didn’t seem to accept that you need to know those things and knowing those things is [essential] for patient safety on the ward,’ Mr. Devitt told Dr. Hassan.

‘I don’t think you know what it means to be a doctor.’

Mr. Devitt said that, after their first weekend working with Dr. Hassan, two colleagues checked whether he was actually a registered medical doctor because ‘you were so far off the scale in terms of your competencies’, said Mr. Devitt.

‘If you pulled someone off the street they would make a better fist of it than you did,’ said Mr. Devitt.

Dr. Hassan worked for brief periods of time at the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise in 2012, Mayo General Hospital in 2013 and University Hospital Galway in 2014.

In his closing statement to the inquiry last week, Dr. Hassan said he ‘totally rejected’ the majority of the allegations. For several others, he claimed he had ‘no recollection’ of the alleged incidents.

He argued that this case has had a ‘devastating effect’ on himself and his health.

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