Former Lismore doctor faces NZ inquiry
By Mel McMillan and Alex Easton firstname.lastname@example.org
A DOCTOR who spent four years treating women at Lismore Base Hospital is under investigation in New Zealand over a series of botched operations.
But the North Coast Area Health Service has declined to release detailed information about Dr Roman Hasil’s time here, citing ‘confidentiality requirements’.
Czech-born Dr Hasil worked as a supervised overseas-trained doctor in obstetrics and gynaecology for four years at Lismore Base Hospital, but lasted just over a year in New Zealand before being suspended for arriving at work drunk, taking extended leave, and then resigning when he became the subject of an investigation into a series of botched sterilisation procedures.
However, Dr Hasil remains able to practise in NSW and last year successfully renewed his registration with the Medical Board of Queensland.
The NSW Medical Board lists Dr Hasil as registered under its ‘general’ category, although that registration was due to expire on February 25.
The board’s entry on Dr Hasil says he lives at Goonellabah but offers no precise address or contact details. Dr Hasil is not listed in the White or Yellow pages and people in the medical community were unaware of his address or phone number, although some believed he had returned to the area.
It was believed he was not practising in the area; however a spokeswoman for the NSW Medical Board said it had ‘no way of knowing if he is currently working in NSW’.
The Queensland Medical Board’s entry on Dr Hasil has him listed without an address.
Roman Hasil graduated as a medical doctor from Komenski University, at Bratislava in the Slovak Republic, in 1980, and according to the Queensland Medical Board, has been certified by the Australian Medical Council as qualified to practise in Australia.
He moved to Australia in the late 1990s, taking up a supervised position in obstetrics and gynaecology in Tasmania before moving to the Lismore Base Hospital in 2001, where he remained, apparently without incident, until he left for New Zealand’s Wanganui Hospital in August, 2005.
Only 14 months later he had been suspended for turning up to work drunk, and complaints about six of 32 sterilisation procedures he had performed began to surface, triggering a formal investigation by the New Zealand Health and Disability Commission.
The North Coast Area Health Service yesterday declined to offer any detailed comment on Dr Hasil’s time at Lismore Base Hospital, beyond confirming he left in 2005 to take up another appointment.
An independent review commissioned by the New Zealand Ministry of Health into Wanganui hospital in July last year found six women fell pregnant after Dr Hasil had performed sterilisation procedures on them.
The report from that review, which was published in August, found colleagues believed Dr Hasil to be a competent doctor, though ‘fast’ and sometimes ‘a bit rough’.
It found on two occasions – in March and October 2006 – Dr Hasil reported for duty smelling of alcohol. On the first occasion he was warned and referred to a GP. On the second he was suspended from duty and went on extended leave.
He remained on leave until he resigned the following March under a cloud over the botched procedures.
The report says that after Dr Hasil’s initial warning ‘money problems, family problems, and a resort to alcohol subsequently came to light’.
The report says it was between the two warnings that four of the six botched procedures happened.
The formal investigation into Dr Hasil was ordered by NZ Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson last March, around the time Dr Hasil resigned, and is expected to hand down its findings within weeks.
“The women concerned deserve to know what happened and that it won’t happen again,” Mr Paterson said when announcing the investigation.
A spokeswoman for the NSW Medical Board said the board was aware of the investigation. “We can act swiftly to suspend any registration and we are awaiting the outcome of the New Zealand inquiry,” she said.
The Queensland Medical Board said it would ‘consider’ the inquiry’s findings when they were handed down.