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Health chiefs told to do adequate checks after doctor found guilty of misconduct

Health chiefs have been ordered to review how they run basic background checks on medics who move between hospitals in light of findings from a fitness to practise inquiry.

Dr Omar Hassan Khalafalla Muhamed was found on Tuesday to have committed 28 counts of poor professional performance and six counts of professional misconduct from his time at the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise in 2012 to Mayo General Hospital in 2013 and University Hospital Galway in 2014.

One incident reported to the Medical Council by a colleague in Galway involved him allegedly mistaking an X-ray of an ankle for an elbow.

Following the inquiry, Health Minister Leo Varadkar ordered the Health Service Executive (HSE) to run adequate checks to make sure doctors and other medics are suitably qualified.

It has also been reminded to check all references before someone is allowed to take up a post.

"It cannot be left solely to professional regulators like the Medical Council to ensure that doctors are fit to practise. Employers like the HSE, voluntary hospitals and private sector operators also have responsibilities," Mr Varadkar said.

The HSE was also told to ensure that medics are regularly put through performance evaluations.

And managers have been asked to immediately put doctors and other health care staff through these tests as soon as concerns are raised about performance.

In a final initiative to bring in greater oversight of the medical profession, the HSE was told to ensure that all employees are asked to declare if they are, or have been, under investigation over their practice or conduct by a medical registration, licensing body or authority in any jurisdiction.

New laws are being written which would force doctors to admit the most serious incidents under their care, such as patient deaths, after Mr Varadkar dropped a commitment to force doctors to admit all mistakes.

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