Doctor suspended after families claim negligence in patient deaths

-foreign doctors warned over breaching licence with private practice

The Medical Council of Guyana has suspended a doctor from practicing following the start of disciplinary proceedings based on complaints of negligence by the families of two of his patients who died.

“The General Public is hereby informed that the licence to practice medicine and surgery of Dr. Abel Fernandez Ciria REG, #2591 is currently suspended pending the hearing and determination of disciplinary proceedings. As such Dr Abel Fernandez Ciria is not licensed to practice medicine and surgery until that suspension is lifted,” the Council announced in a notice that was recently published in the daily newspapers.

Chairman of the Medical Council Dr Navindranath Rambarran told Stabroek News that the suspension of Dr. Ciria, a Cuban national, was due to complaints of negligence and/or malpractice by relatives of the deceased patients, which resulted in disciplinary proceedings.

Rambarran noted that because of the gravity of the complaints, the Council felt it best to suspend Ciria’s licence, pending the result of the disciplinary proceedings started against him. “We have the disciplinary proceedings now to determine if there was negligence but this suspension is an interim measure based on the considerations of Council with regards to the gravity of the situation,” he explained.

Meanwhile, through its notice the Council also announced that two other foreign doctors, Dr Jose Ocampo Trueba, whose registration number is 805, and Dr. Raveendranath Ichlangod, whose registration number is 1273, are only licensed to practice at the Davis Memorial Hospital and the Georgetown Public Hospital, respectively.

Rambarran told Stabroek News that the council received information that although the licences granted to the two doctors were limited their practice to specified institutions, they had been practicing privately.

“Those two have institutional registration to work in a specific institution but we had reasonable information that they have not been confining their practice to that particular place so we have sent them letters of warning and have issued that public notice,” he explained.

“In these cases, the licences granted deals with foreign specialists and they do not have licences to practice privately as such,” he added.

Rambarran said while patients in Guyana do not normally focus on the licensing of their medical practitioners, it is still an infraction for a doctor to be given one type of licence and then to operate contrary to what is stipulated.

He is advising patients to look for a public display of the licence in the offices or institutions of the doctors they visit. “[It] should be highlighted on the certificate from the Medical Council of where they are licensed to practice. This license should be displayed in the doctors’ office or place of work,” he said.

“The other thing is, that based on a person’s or patients’ interest, we want them to know that they can go on the council’s website and actually see where the licences for practice of doctors are. This is why the council has to resort to putting notices and these things in the papers because people seem to get away with the idea that doctors who are licensed can practice anywhere and the public doesn’t check to read licences and so forth and don’t generally question. Not everyone has a licence to practice freely and anywhere or at any private institution they so wish,” he added.

In order to be licensed, a doctor has to complete a detailed registration process. It caters for Full Registration, Institutional Registration, Short Term Registration and Internship Registration, with respective licences for each category.

Former Minister of Health Dr. George Norton said that he has taken note of the newspaper notice and he too explained that many doctors are not adhering to their specified licence to practice.

He also pointed out that when graduates of Cuban scholarships in medicine return to Guyana, they cannot immediately open a private practice and instead they are placed at hospitals for a minimum of one year to gain necessary experience.

“When a doctor just returned he or she cannot just come and start to practice privately or anything like that. They would have to practice at the hospital for at least one year and is further subject to due diligence by the Medical Council,” he explained.

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