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Medical inquiry told ‘someone off street’ would do a better job

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Colleagues were so concerned about the clinical abilities of a doctor at University Hospital Galway that they questioned whether he was actually a registered medical practitioner, a disciplinary inquiry has heard.

There were also concerns over whether Dr. Omar Hassan Khalafalla Mohamed knew basic protocols regarding suspected child abuse cases, while one senior colleague said Dr. Hassan’s level of competence was so low that ‘someone off the street’ would do a better job than he did.

BY LIZ FARSACI

Dr. Hassan has been up before an ongoing fitness to practice inquiry taking place at the Medical Council headquarters in Dublin, which began on January 4 and is expected to continue through to January 18.

He faces allegations of poor professional performance and professional misconduct in relation to a number of events that occurred and medical care he provided while working at University Hospital Galway, Mayo General Hospital and the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise.

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

Dr. Hassan was employed as an orthopaedic Senior House Officer at Galway from January 13, 2014, for six months. However, he was placed on administrative leave on February 21, 2014, following concerns from colleagues over patient safety.

Orthopaedic consultant Mutaz Jadaan, who worked with Dr. Hassan at UHG, expressed concerns that Dr. Hassan seemingly left a young child with a single arm fracture in A&E for two to three hours.

When Mr. Jadaan learned of the delay, he stressed to Dr. Hassan the importance of assessing children straight away, so that a non-accidental injury – a symptom of possible child abuse – could be ruled out. This is especially important when a child presents with a single fracture.

“He had no knowledge of the importance of ruling it out,” Mr. Jadaan told the inquiry on Wednesday.

Early on in a doctor’s training ‘it is drilled into you’ that when dealing with children, a doctor needs to rule out non-accidental injuries, Mr. Jadaan said.

Dr. Jadaan said he would be very worried if a senior house officer, such as Dr. Hassan, was not aware of the importance of such issues, as the implications of missing a non-accidental injury in a child can be ‘catastrophic’.

Dr. Hassan, who is representing himself, told the inquiry that he did not recall the exact details of the conversation with Mr. Jadaan, and that he knew what an NAI was.

Dr. Hassan implied that perhaps the young child was a ‘fake’ patient, although he did not elaborate on this matter. When asked for his thoughts on this claim, Mr. Jadaan said the claim ‘is wrong, to say the least’.

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Aiden Devitt, who worked at UHG while Dr. Hassan was there, told the inquiry that Dr. Hassan was taken off unsupervised duty after his first weekend on call.

Mr. Devitt said Dr. Hassan, originally from Sudan, demonstrated a lack of basic medical knowledge expected of an SHO, as well as basic hospital protocols.

During Dr. Hassan’s first week at Galway, a number of colleagues raised concerns regarding Dr. Hassan’s clinical abilities.

Mr. Devitt told Dr. Hassan at 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.

“The fact is, 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 on Tuesday.

“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’.

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

Dr Hassan said that a number of events described by Mr Devitt did not occur as the consultant described them, and that he disputed a number of Mr Devitt’s claims.

Consultant John McCabe, an orthopaedic and trauma surgeon at University Hospital Galway, had earlier told the inquiry of a number of concerns that were raised about Dr. Hassan.

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

In February 2014, the decision was made to take Dr. Hassan off of all clinical duties. 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.

Edel Kelly, clinical nurse manager in the Trauma Orthopaedic Ward at UHG, revealed that, in one instance, 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 said she had to twice go to the doctor’s area, where Dr. Hassan was, to ask him to assist her.

Dr. Hassan said he did not recall that.

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

She said that when he did come to see the patient – who had 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 that this was not the most appropriate question.

Connacht Tribune

A Moycullen win would add badly needed spice to football’s big day

John McIntyre

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Conor Reddington of Annaghdown and Tuam Stars' Adam Carton in action during the North Board Minor B football final at Tuam Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

BEFORE a ball was kicked in this year’s Galway senior championship, the smart money would have been on champions Corofin, Tuam Stars, Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough making it to the semi-finals if they managed to keep out of each other’s way on the road to the penultimate stage off the title race.

Unfortunately, for a Salthill team which, in any event, didn’t scale their expected heights this year, they came up against the champions in the quarter-finals where the Seasiders’ challenge was dismissed in convincing fashion. It was business as usual for Corofin who remain odds on to claim a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.

With Tuam Stars edging out Bearna after extra-time, a Paul Kelly goal helping Moycullen get the better of St James’, and Mountbellew/Moylough powering home against 14-man Killannin, it means that three of last year’s semi-finalists are back seeking a place in the Galway decider this weekend. Mountbellew/Moylough are the odd ones out having fallen to Corofin in the 2019 quarter-finals.

Val Daly’s troops will need the performance of the lives to overturn club’s football’s dominant power, especially as they continue to field without county player John Daly – a son of their manager. Of course, they are not without a chance and if the likes of Michael Daly, Matthew Barrett, Eoin Finnerty, Eoin Ryan and Barry McHugh hit the ground running, they could give Corofin a searching time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Greens see red on gold rush

Dara Bradley

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Opposition is intensifying to the prospect of a licence being awarded to Canadian gold prospectors planning to explore the heart of Connemara.

Environmental campaigners have warned of the dangers of awarding a prospecting licence to Toronto-based MOAG to mine for gold and silver in land around Roundstone, Ballyconneely and Ballynahinch.

They claim the exploration could devastate water supplies, tourism, wildlife – and also led to tensions in the local community.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton has indicated he intends to grant a prospecting licence to the company to explore for the valuable minerals in townlands in Ballynahinch Barony.

The licence allows the holder to explore for mineral deposits, and does not authorise mining of any materials that are found – that requires further licensing.

And Minister Bruton’s Department insists that the activities permitted under this licence are “non-invasive” and “of minimal environmental impact”.

However, campaigners have warned of the dangers mining can have on Connemara, and have urged the public to object before July 6.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Controversial Ballinasloe landfill prepares for closure

Declan Tierney

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The Galway dump that forced householders to close their windows during the hottest of summers will take in waste for the last time during the middle of this year.

The pong the emanated from the landfill site in Kilconnell will be no more as it will cease accepting waste by the end of June next year.

Ballinasloe area councillors were told how Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site following the liquidation of the former operators Greenstar.

The Council agreed to accept 300,000 tons of municipal waste over a three-year period and this will come to an end by the middle of next year, after which the dump will be capped and closed the following year.

Director of Services Jim Cullen informed a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that following the closure of the dump, there would be long term care of the site to ensure that there would be no adverse environmental issues.

When Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site, an allocation of €300,000 was provided by the Department of the Environment for local projects.

Of this, €120,000 has been given to the area engineer to spend at his discretion and the remaining €180,000 has been dispersed equally among the six Ballinasloe councillors – resulting in each getting €30,000 to spend on projects in their area.

It is expected that a further €300,000 will be allocated to organisations within a certain radius of the landfill site and a committee made up of Cllr Aidan Donohue (FG), Cllr Dermot Connolly (SF) and Cllr Timmy Broderick (Ind) to decide how this fund will be dispersed.

For years, the dump in Kilconnell caused annoyance for local residents because of the smells emanating from the site and many householders say that it is still a major problem.

Cllr Michael Finnerty warned about the possibility of a run-off of leachate – a liquid that drains from landfill sites that can cause pollution – from the site into the future.

He said that he attended a meeting in Ballinasloe in which residents expressed concern about a leachate run-off from the old dump in Poolboy which has been closed down for years.

He was assured by Mr Cullen that the situation in Poolboy was being continually monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency but he would investigate these claims.

With regard to the closure of the dump in Kilconnell, Cllr Aidan Donohue said that he was not convinced about the ongoing maintenance of the site into the future.

He said when the landfill site in New Inn was closed many years ago, the Council just walked away and left the site in an unacceptable state.

The Fine Gael councillor was referring to suggestions that the Kilconnell site might have future potential and may be an asset but he cited what happened in New Inn when he said that it was just abandoned.

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