Saturday 24 February 2018

Doctor didn't know how to take a patient's pulse

Medic found guilty of 'poor performance'

Edel O'Connell

A DOCTOR who did not know how to take a pulse has been found guilty of poor professional performance by the Medical Council.

Dr Asia Ndaga (31) failed to turn up for a fitness to practise inquiry yesterday where she faced several allegations concerning her work at Letterkenny General Hospital in Donegal last year.

She was placed there by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland but was fired after concerns about her ability to practise safely were raised by another doctor at the hospital.

The inquiry yesterday upheld all allegations against the Romanian doctor, including that she was unable to take a pulse, failed to take a patient's history and could not gauge how much oxygen the patient was on.

However, the committee did not find Dr Ndaga guilty of the more serious charge of professional misconduct. The full Medical Council will decide on any sanction to be imposed.

Dr Ndaga, with an address at Adelaide Avenue in Coleraine, Co Derry, began working as a senior house officer -- a junior doctor -- at Letterkenny General Hospital in July 2010.

Concerns were raised by nursing and clinical staff about her poor performance, and when the situation did not improve it was deemed necessary to formally assess her competence.

Consultant Ken Mulpeter asked Dr Ndaga to assess a patient with lung disease who was wearing an oxygen mask.

During the assessment he asked Dr Ndaga to take the patient's pulse. However, he noted Dr Ndaga incorrectly placed her fingers on the top of the patient's wrist instead of on the underside.

She told the consultant the patient had a normal pulse rhythm when in fact the patient had an irregular pulse.

She was then asked to show the consultant how to take a pulse from the patient's foot and once again put her fingers in the wrong place.


The inquiry heard Dr Ndaga was also unable to gauge how much oxygen the patient was on, despite the fact this would have been written on the oxygen mask.

Mr Mulpeter said he would expect a medical student to know how to do this.

He said he had serious concerns about the doctor's ability to practise safely and so recommended to management that she cease working as a doctor immediately.

A decision was made to terminate her contract with one week's notice. The Medical Council was also informed.

Through her solicitor, Dr Ndaga said she felt the assessment carried out by Mr Mulpeter of her performance at the hospital was "too brief".

However, after this initial response from her solicitors the Medical Council could not contact Dr Ndaga despite a series of letters, emails and phone calls.

Last night the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) said Dr Ndaga was deemed able to practise medicine under regulations in accordance with Irish and EU legislation.

Meanwhile, the Irish Patients' Association has called for an investigation into how the doctor was appointed.

"How was this doctor certified as having met the appropriate educational and training standards to be on the medical register?" spokesman Stephen McMahon said.

A report on the finding of the inquiry and recommendations as to sanction will now go to the full Medical Council.

Irish Independent

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