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Doctor accused of putting cancer patients' health at risk and showing 'lack of empathy'

Dr Saqib Ahmed worked as a registrar in oncology from July to November 2012 at University Hospital Limerick.

Image: Shutterstock/sfam_photo

A DOCTOR WHO worked in cancer treatment at University Hospital Limerick is facing eight allegations of professional misconduct and poor professional performance.

Dr Saqib Ahmed, who worked as a registrar in oncology from July to November 2012, spoke via telephone from the US in his fitness to practice inquiry at the Medical Council today.

It is alleged that he failed to attend the hospital in a timely manner on 20 October 2012 and that he failed to order chemotherapy treatment for a patient, despite being reminded to do so.

It is also alleged that he left the clinic without permission, failed to adequately assess a patient, put one or more patients at risk by failing to attend the hospital in a timely manner and and spoke to another doctor in a verbally and/or aggressive manner when doctors spoke to him about his treatment and about his late attendance.

Marked patient with his thumbnail 

It is also alleged that Dr Ahmed marked an area for a lumbar puncture on a cancer patient using his thumbnail, when a pen should have been used.

It’s alleged that he failed to request basic tests and failed to respond to attempts by staff to contact him when he failed to turn up on time for a ward round.

Dr Ahmed is also alleged to have not recorded adequate medical notes for a patient and showed “poor clinical judgement and “lack of empathy” for a patient.

He denies the allegations.

Giving evidence today, a locum consultant heamatologist at the hospital told the Medical Council that on the 20 October 2012, Dr Ahmed was scheduled to attend a ward round in the morning with him.

However, he said that Dr Ahmed did not arrive on time, stating in evidence that he was several hours late.

He claims Dr Ahmed failed to respond to one or more attempts by hospital staff to contact him and that he put patients’ health at risk by failing to attend the hospital in a timely manner.

00031410 Source: Photocall Ireland

Dr Ahmed maintained his flight the night before had been delayed and he was jetlagged.

The witness said Dr Ahmed did not contact him or the hospital prior to his round to say he was going to be late.

He said while Dr Ahmed might not have had his mobile number, he would have been contactable through the switchboard as all members of staff on call are listed with the switch.

When the locum consultant said he confronted Dr Ahmed about his late arrival, he said he responded in a “verbally threatening manner”.

Questioning the witness locum doctor, Dr Ahmed took issue with his statement saying that he was uncontactable for “several hours”.

The locum heamatologist said it was from before 10.30am until at least 12 midday that the hospital staff could not reach him.

“For me, that is long enough. That is unacceptable to be that uncontactable for that amount of time if you are on call.”

Dr Ahmed asked him again if it was “several hours” for which the doctor said that he had answered his question, adding that it is a long time to be out of contact when you are looking after sick patients.

Dr Ahmed also raised the matter of him showing “lack of empathy”.

The locum doctor said he did not recall Dr Ahmed seeing the patient at all, and said there was no evidence he had seen the patient as no medical notes had been recorded.

“I can’t say yes or no on lack of empathy as I never saw you see him.”

The locum doctor told the Medical Council that when it was conveyed to Dr Ahmed that the provisional diagnosis was it was an aggressive tumor in one patient, Dr Ahmed said “you are talking nonsense”.

Dr Ahmed told the council that he said it was “complete nonsense”.

The locum doctor said both statements were much of the same.

The locum doctor said he believed what Dr Ahmed said was “abusive”.

The inquiry will continue for the next two days.

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