Second doctor accused of sexually assaulting patients at Naas General Hospital

Trigger Warning: This article covers incidents of sexual assault

RTÉ Investigates reveals that a second doctor has been accused of sexually assaulting patients at Naas General Hospital.

Last November, the Irish investigative programme revealed three separate investigations were underway at Naas General Hospital concerning a series of complaints of suspected sexual assault of unconscious patients by a doctor. But this is not the first time a doctor at Naas Hospital has been under investigation for alleged sexual assault. 

Tonight, RTÉ Investigates will reveal that just a year previous in 2015, another doctor working at the hospital had his medical registration cancelled following complaints by two ​young patients.

In October 2010, 19-year-old ‘Ryan’ (not his real name) was referred by his GP to Naas General Hospital suffering from severe anaemia. ‘Ryan’ was placed under the care of a medical team – one of whom was Dr Pathmadevan Rathnam. From Malaysia, Dr Rathnam qualified in medicine from the National University of Ireland in 2008.

Speaking about his horrifying experience, Ryan said, “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 and I thought well yeah okay because I was complaining of stomach pains and pain in my groin so I thought this is all normal, it is just routine.”

He continued to visit ‘Ryan’ during the following three nights, inappropriately touching him on each occasion.

Four months later, in February 2011, ‘Ryan’ was again ​severely anaemic and went to the Emergency Dept at Naas Hospital. This time Dr Rathnam was not part of the medical team assigned to care for ‘Ryan’. Despite this, ‘Ryan’ says Dr Rathnam visited him at night a further two times – assaulting him on each occasion.  

Documents seen by RTÉ Investigates also show that on several nights when ‘Ryan’ says he was assaulted, Dr Rathnam was not scheduled to be working.

'Ryan’ found the courage to tell his mother what had happened, and she persuaded him to report his concerns. “I spoke to one of the nurses in the ward and I said to her is there any reason why I should be having examinations below? And she said no why, and I said a doctor has been coming around during the night and performing these checks on me and she just said I’ll be right back and the next thing the Head of Nursing was there,” Ryan explained.

“They asked me for a description, and I began to give a description and they finished my description and it shocked me because they were so accurate and straight away me and my mam looked at each other and we were like ‘this has happened before’."

RTÉ Investigates can reveal ‘Ryan’s’ complaint was not the first allegation made against Dr Rathnam. The nurses were able to recognise ‘Ryan’s’ description because just three days earlier they had heard something similar.

Sources have confirmed to RTÉ Investigates that at least one other male, a minor, alleged Dr Rathnam had also inappropriately touched him while at Naas Hospital.

In a statement Naas General Hospital said: “On the day the first complaint was received [28th February 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. But 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. ​"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 added.

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…”

Last year RTÉ Investigates revealed three separate investigations were underway into a series of complaints of suspected sexual abuse of unconscious patients by another doctor at Naas General Hospital. The investigations – by the HSE, the Irish Medical Council and An Garda Síochána – related to the alleged conduct of Dr Aamir Zuberi, an anaesthetist who formerly 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 Pathmadevan Rathnam was struck off the medical register in relation to complaints of alleged sexual assault.  

Watch RTÉ Investigates – Abuse of Trust on Prime Time tonight at 9.35pm on RTÉ One and RTE Player.

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article, you can contact Dignity4Patients on 041 9843730 from 10am until 4pm on Monday through Thursday. For the Rape Crisis Network, call 1800 778 888.

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