Complaints of suspected assault on unconscious hospital patients

According to RTÉ Investigates, there are three separate investigations into the complaints against a former anaesthetist who worked at Naas General Hospital
Complaints of suspected assault on unconscious hospital patients

Complaints about the suspected sexual assault of unconscious patients at an Irish hospital are under investigation by gardaí.

Three separate investigations are underway into the complaints against a former anaesthetist who worked at Naas General Hospital, according to RTÉ Investigates.

The complaints are subject to investigations by the Garda, the HSE and the Irish Medical Council, which are still ongoing.

One of the patients involved spoke to RTÉ Investigates based on anonymity and using the pseudonym Michael, and said he is still struggling to come to terms with what happened to him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOZfmD_smxY

Michael was admitted to Naas General Hospital in early 2017 for tests to explore the source of persistent stomach pains.

His medical file shows he was transferred to theatre just before 3pm, but it was after midnight when he returned to the ward, over nine hours later, after an exploratory procedure resulted in the removal of his appendix.

It was not until early 2019 that Michael was contacted by gardaí in Naas, who said that several staff from the hospital had reported concerns regarding the suspected sexual assault of Michael and others.

Michael's wife Aisling, also using a pseudonym to protect the couple’s identity, said of the phone call from gardaí: “He said that they came to the Garda station in Naas, they made their complaints, you know there were several patients and there were three or four different nurses who made the statements.

“I was sick, I physically was throwing up because you know we trusted them, you put your life in their hands, right? I personally at the time I couldn’t, I couldn’t accept it."

Apology

Almost four years on, Michael said he has never been contacted by Naas General Hospital.

"I got no correspondence from the hospital just to say that we are internally investigating this, not even, I’ve not even had an apology even, it was the fact that, just the recognition that they were you know looking into this."

"The anger for me turns into weakness, instead of me roaring and shouting, it takes my breath away, it makes me just feel weak, what can I do about it, you know?"

Michael was informed by gardaí that the doctor under investigation had been placed on administrative leave by the hospital, pending the Garda investigation.

In the summer of 2019, he was then told the doctor had left the country.

As Ireland currently has no extradition agreement in place with the country in question, RTÉ reports that the investigations are essentially stalled.

Michael said: “I am scared of hospitals now, if there is a crowd of people there, I’ll be okay I can’t explain it but if you are in a room all on your own you don’t know what’s coming through the door, you don’t know what’s going in your IV, you don’t know what’s happening anymore. Once that switch has been turned on, you can’t turn it off — even if I wanted to, I can’t. I can’t deal with trusting anybody anymore, and it is not just hospitals, it is sort of everybody. I used to have a sort of social network, I don’t have any social network now, you know I don’t go anywhere, I don’t go out.”

Second hospital

RTÉ also reports that the doctor worked for several years at another Irish hospital, before taking up employment at Naas. RTÉ asked hospital management at Naas if it had informed the other hospital of the concerns regarding the doctor’s behaviour or the ongoing Garda investigation.

In response, a HSE spokesperson said Naas General Hospital “has been strongly advised that it cannot comment as to do so would unfairly prejudice the outcome of an ongoing Garda investigation.”

In response to a separate query from Breakingnews.ie, a HSE spokesperson said Naas General Hospital has contacted and “been in communication with three patients affected and tried unsuccessfully to contact the fourth. The hospital are available at any time to talk to this person.”

A statement from Naas General Hospital additionally stated it takes "allegations of this nature very seriously and is fully engaged with the gardaí. In addition, Naas General Hospital have a strict reporting policy for its staff and where a serious allegation is raised they follow the Trust in Care Policy and take their responsibilities in that regard very seriously."

In response to a query from Breakingnews.ie, a Garda spokesperson said: "As a Garda investigation, which includes liaison with Interpol, into a number of reports we have received of sexual assault at a hospital in the east of the country is ongoing, An Garda Síochána is not in a position to comment in detail on this investigation."

Breakingnews.ie has also contacted the Irish Medical Council for comment.

RTÉ Investigates - A Patient's Nightmare will air tonight on Prime Time at 9.35pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player.

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