The case of ‘Ryan’, who says he was abused several times by the same doctor, features on RTÉ Prime Time
A 19-year-old man has spoken about how he was abused by a doctor at Naas General Hospital when he was a child.
‘Ryan’ told RTÉ Investigates that, in October 2010, he was referred to the Co Kildare medical facility by a GP because he was suffering from severe anaemia.
He was placed under the care of a team which included Dr Pathmadevan Rathnam. Dr Rathnam, who is from Malaysia, qualified from the National University of Ireland in 2008 with a degree in medicine.
"It was late, I was asleep, he came in and woke me up, turned on the light above the bed and he said ‘I need to just do an examination and I need you to slide your trousers and underwear down, I need to examine you below’,” said Ryan.
"I thought well yeah, OK, because I was complaining of stomach pains and pain in my groin so I thought this is all normal, it is just routine.”.
Ryan said Dr Rathnam visited and continued to touch him inappropriately over the next three nights.
In February 2011, Ryan was readmitted to the hospital. This time Dr Rathnam was not part of his clinical team, but Ryan said he visited him twice during his stay and sexually abused him on both occasions. Dr Rathnam was not scheduled to work on either night.
Ryan found the courage to tell his mother about the abuse and she convinced him to report it to officials at the hospital.
"I spoke to one of the nurses in the ward. I said to her is there any reason why I should be having examinations below. She said no [and asked] why, and I said a doctor has been coming around during the night and performing these checks on me.
"She just said I’ll be right back and the next thing the head of nursing was there.
"They asked me for a description. I began to give a description and they finished my description. It shocked me because they were so accurate. Straight away, me and my mam looked at each other and we were like, ‘this has happened before’.”
Ryan’s complaint was not the first allegation made against Dr Rathnam, because three days earlier nurses at the hospital had heard something similar.
Sources told RTÉ Investigates that at least one other male minor alleged that Dr Rathnam abused him while he was a patient at the hospital.
In a statement, Naas General Hospital said: “On the day the first complaint was received [February 28, 2011], the hospital convened a serious incident review meeting.”
Following on from this, the hospital added that it "decided to suspend the doctor from duty with immediate effect pending the outcome of a trust in care process… The doctor has never returned to work since his suspension.
“The hospital notified the allegations to the Irish Medical Council, HSE Child Protection Services and An Garda Síochána in April 2011.”
Before gardaí could question Dr Rathnam he left the country, but Ryan was not informed by the hospital or gardaí that Dr Rathnam was no longer in Ireland.
"For a whole year, I lived in fear of ‘what if I bump into him in the supermarket, what if I see him in the street’,” Ryan said.
It comes as three separate investigations are also under way into complaints of sexual assaults on unconscious patients at Naas General by another doctor.
Gardaí, the HSE and the Irish Medical Council are investigating the allegations against Dr Aamir Zuberi, an anaesthetist who previously worked at the hospital.
The allegations related to four patients, with each of the suspected incidents alleged to have occurred during 2016 and 2017 – just a year after Dr Rathnam was struck off the medical register in relation to complaints of alleged sexual assault.
Ryan thought he was starting to come to terms with what happened to him, but hearing about Dr Zuberi’s actions has brought the trauma back.
"For many, many years I’ve suffered extreme depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts,” Ryan said. “It affects your sexual life, it affects your everyday life, but I knew I had to get to the end because I knew that was the only way I could feel any relief from this. And I did, until it all happened again to someone else."
RTÉ Investigates – Abuse of Trust will air on Prime Time on RTÉ One tonight at 9.35pm.