Hasil impairment affects capacity

Disgraced former Lismore doctor Roman Hasil. VIDEO STILL COURTESY OF NZTV1, NEW ZEALAND
Disgraced former Lismore doctor Roman Hasil. VIDEO STILL COURTESY OF NZTV1, NEW ZEALAND

FORMER Lismore obstetrician Roman Hasil's medical career is all but over.

But a decision handed down by the NSW Medical Tribunal yesterday suggests, in the end, it is a head injury and the bottle rather than the complaints of his former patients that will prompt the tribunal to ban him from practising.

The tribunal handed down its rulings on a series of complaints against Hasil brought by a group of 15 women he treated at Lismore Base Hospital between 2001 and 2005. The tribunal has issued a suppression order banning the identification of the women.

Hasil represented himself before the tribunal. He offered no defence and chose to not to cross-examine either the complainants nor the expert witnesses relied on by the Health Care Complaints Commission.

The women accused Hasil of unsatisfactory professional conduct and/or professional misconduct, of not being of good character, and of suffering an impairment that "detrimentally affects ... the practitioner's physical or mental capacity to practice medicine".

The tribunal found the third complaint and part of the first complaint, which included the bulk of the allegations levelled against Hasil, proven, but cleared him of the second complaint - that he was not of good character.

Hasil admitted to some of the allegations in the first (conduct) complaint, but denied others, including accusations of being "rude" or "rough" with patients. The tribunal found most of these claims against Hasil not proven, although it did find failures in his documenting of procedures.

The tribunal found the third allegation (impairment) proven after receiving extensive evidence about damage to Hasil's brain caused by a 2009 head injury that left him in a coma at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney and about alcohol abuse.

One report suggested his drinking may have slowed his recovery from his head injury in 2009 and suggested he would be eligible for a disability support pension, while another prepared last year reported Hasil claimed not to have drunk in two years and "it seems unlikely that alcohol abuse is responsible for his current cognitive problems".

The tribunal found Hasil "currently lacks the mental capacity to practice medicine".

The decision also included damning reports from other doctors. One says he dealt with others in a "narcissistic" way, while another said he failed to acknowledge or even understand the impact he had on others.

"There are significant inadequacies in the care provided by Dr Hasil," wrote Dr Peter Bland, a medical expert brought in by the Health Care Complaints Commission in 2009.

"He is a poor communicator and a poor documenter. He fails to establish an effective interaction with patients and, of greater concern, seems to be oblivious of that at the time.

"Of still greater concern, he remains ignorant even in the face of formal complaint and review.

"He lacks insight that he is not practising in a way his colleagues do and would expect him to.

"His responses to criticism are a combination of denial and dismissal or textbook-like quotations. This is not helpful - he appears to not grasp that there is a problem."

The tribunal will hear submissions on orders and costs judgments stemming from its findings in Sydney on Wednesday.

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