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05 Jul 2022

Young man who claims he was sexually assaulted by Naas Hospital doctor lost job, lived in ‘constant fear’, after abuse

Interview with 'Ryan' ahead of Tuesday evening's Prime Time Investigates

Young man who claims he was sexually assaulted by Naas Hospital doctor lost job, lived in ‘constant fear’, after abuse

Naas Hospital

A victim of a former Naas General Hospital (NGH) doctor, who has been accused of making inappropriate advances on patients, has claimed that he was repeatedly molested during examination.

It follows after a Prime Time investigation, which aired back in November last year, detailed alleged sexual abuse from one Dr Aamir Zuberi at NGH, who has since returned to his native Pakistan.

Dr Pathmadevan Rathnam, who graduated from medical school in 2008, is the subject of another RTE Prime Time Investigates programme this evening, concerning a case of sexual assault on a young patient, given the pseudonym ‘Ryan’ by the broadcaster. 

Speaking to the Leinster Leader, ‘Ryan’ claimed that Dr Rathnam repeatedly molested him during inappropriate examinations on dates in 2010 and 2011.

The alleged abuse first happened when ‘Ryan’, then 20, was first admitted to NGH for a number of days in October 2010, and continued when he was admitted again for a number of days between February and March 2011.

‘Ryan’ alleges that Dr Rathnam did not speak to him or seek his consent during any of the examinations, which is a contradiction of section 15.2 of the Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners. This section states that, ‘where an intimate examination is necessary, you should explain to the patient why it is needed and what it will entail’.

It also states a patient can have a chaperone present if they wish during the procedure, but ‘Ryan’ claimed that Dr Rathnam did not mention this part to him either.

‘Ryan’ also said that Dr Rathnam often had no name badge on him and no chart with him during these alleged incidents, and that two of the incidents occurred after lights-out time.

During one of the alleged incidents, ‘Ryan’ claimed that when he tried to talk to Dr Rathnam about another medical issue of his, Dr Rathnam ‘screwed up his nose in disgust and left; he never pulled my trousers or boxers up, or indicated that the exam was over’.

He added that he knew the examinations were inappropriate, as when another doctor examined his private regions, they did so in ‘a normal, above-board manner’.

When ‘Ryan’ disclosed the alleged abuse to a social worker and a patient services manager at NGH, he was disappointed with their response: “When I spoke with them and told them what happened, I felt like they were not surprised by what I was saying.

“It was almost as if they knew who I was talking about, despite the fact that I did not know the doctor's name at this time.”

‘Ryan’ continued: “(At the time) NGH assured me that they were always at the end of the phone any time I needed them.

“However, as soon as I was discharged, the doors were essentially locked behind me.

‘Ryan’ later lodged a personal injuries claim against the doctor and Naas General Hospital. His solicitor informed him that Dr Rathnam had moved to his native Malaysia, not long after he came forward to both gardaí and NGH with his story.

The solicitor confirmed to the Leinster Leader that the case was officially settled in 2019, when legal fees were paid. In addition, he confirmed that ‘Ryan’ received a sum of money from the HSE.

‘Ryan’’s solicitor said that he has “suffered a most disabling psychiatric personal injury” due to the alleged incidents, and  added that while he has struggled with depression for most of his life, the trauma of the alleged abuse exacerbated his turmoil.

‘Ryan’ explained: “I lost my job as a result of the mental anguish: I lived in constant fear of running into Dr Rathnam when I worked in Naas.

“I fell into a deep depression, to the point where I was on three different anti-depressants, sleeping tablets and anxiety medication.

“I avoided all family occasions... I began to become reclusive, bitter and angry, and I found myself not wanting to live anymore.

“I found myself not wanting to live anymore, and in the end, it cost me my 13 year relationship with my partner, and a vast number of years that I will never get back.”

In addition, ‘Ryan’ detailed one experience where he was admitted to Waterford General Hospital for a collapsed lung, but was so on-edge from his time at NGH that he discharged himself: even when told he was at risk of dying from his injury.

‘Ryan’ has criticised the garda handling of his case. “To this day, the investigation is still ongoing, despite the fact that he is in Malaysia and cannot be extradited.”

The Irish Medical Council confirmed that, following an enquiry into Dr Rathnam's alleged behaviour that took place in  June of 2015, he was struck off as a medical practitioner, after being found guilty of “professional misconduct.”

However, ‘Ryan’ described Dr Rathnam's return to Malaysia as “another failure of the system.”

‘Ryan’ concluded by saying that he hopes that by telling his story, it would encourage other people in similar circumstances to come forward and to not feel ashamed.

“If it helps just one person, it will be worth it to tell my story.

“This should not be happening in what should be a safe place; a place in which you place your trust and are at your most vulnerable... they need to be named and shamed.” 

In a statement to RTE, Naas General Hospital said: “On the day the first complaint was received [February 28, 2011], the Hospital convened a serious incident review meeting” and  "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”.

This was more than a month after it received the first complaint.

Before Gardaí questioned Dr Rathnam, he left Ireland. However, ‘Ryan’ was not told by Naas Hospital or the Gardaí that Dr Rathnam had left the country, and said that for a year he lived in fear of bumping into him in the supermarket or on a street."

Naas General Hospital told RTÉ Investigates: “The lack of ongoing communication and follow up is not in line with the standard of practice nowadays… we acknowledge this was not adequate… [and] The Hospital would like to sincerely apologise to those involved…”

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