Colleagues checked if doctor was qualified

Colleagues were so concerned about the clinical abilities of a doctor they questioned whether he was actually a registered medical practitioner, a disciplinary inquiry heard yesterday.

There were also concerns over whether the doctor was aware of hospital protocols regarding suspected child abuse cases, and he was “aggressive” with a colleague.

Dr Omar Hassan Khalafalla Mohamed is appearing before an inquiry at the Medical Council headquarters in Dublin, which began last Monday.

He faces a number of allegations relating to events that occurred and care he provided while working as an SHO at the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise, Mayo General Hospital, and University Hospital Galway.

Dr Hassan, whose medical registration has been suspended since March 2015, denies the allegations.

Yesterday’s proceedings covered Dr Hassan’s time at University Hospital Galway, where he was employed as an orthopaedic senior house officer from January 13, 2014, for six months.

However, he was placed on administrative leave on February 21, 2014, following concerns from colleagues.

Consultant orthopaedic and trauma surgeon John McCabe, from University Hospital Galway, told the inquiry of a number of concerns raised about Dr Hassan.

He said after Dr Hassan’s first night on call, two colleagues were so concerned about his apparent lack of clinical abilities, they checked on the Irish medical register to confirm whether Dr Hassan was actually a registered doctor.

Mr McCabe also spoke of a concern raised by another colleague, who observed Dr Hassan assessing a young child, who had presented to the emergency department with a long bone fracture.

The colleague believed the fracture to be a non-accidental injury. In cases of suspected child abuse, the protocol would be to admit the child for paediatric and social services.

He said when the colleague working with Dr Hassan said they needed to admit the child, Dr Hassan allegedly responded: ‘What does that have to do with us?’

In response, Dr Hassan told the inquiry yesterday he definitely knows what non-accidental injuries are, and what he meant by his reply was they should treat the child and let the paediatric and social services teams handle other issues.

In February 2014, the decision was made to take Dr Hassan off all clinical duties at Galway. As he deliberated on this decision, Mr McCabe said he “could find nobody in nursing or medicine who could vouch for [Dr Hassan]”.

Mr McCabe said he “would have absolute, serious concerns” about Dr Hassan working in another hospital. He said the biggest concern regarding Dr Hassan is his lack of insight into his shortcomings, and his inability to communicate with others in order to improve himself.

“I would never knowingly have Dr Hassan ever work alongside me,” he said.

Edel Kelly, clinical nurse manager in the trauma orthopaedic ward at University Hospital Galway, said Dr Hassan was slow to respond when he was alerted to a collapsed female patient, who was not responding verbally or moving her limbs.

She had to go to the doctor’s area, twice, to ask him to assist her.

Dr Hassan said he did not recall that, adding the nurses’s notes made no mention of a delay on his part.

Ms Kelly said she was concerned because she thought “the urgency of the situation failed to be appreciated” by Dr Hassan.

She said when he did come to see the patient, who had hip surgery, he stood in the doorway and asked the patient whether she had pain in her hip.

As the patient was unresponsive at the time, Ms Kelly felt it was not the most appropriate question.

She said the doctor, on another occasion, acted “aggressively”. He also asked her about the name of a nurse who made a complaint against him. The two of them went into Ms Kelly’s office, which is quite small, in order to speak privately.

Ms Kelly said his manner and tone of voice made her feel unconformable. She told him she was halting the conversation, and left her office.

Dr Hassan was a little bit aggressive and she felt vulnerable, Ms Kelly said. “In all my years in orthopaedics, I have developed a very thick skin — and in this situation I felt uncomfortable. In all of my nursing career, I have never felt that way.”

Dr Hassan said he did not recall events in the way Ms Kelly described them.

The inquiry continues next week.


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