PATIENT confidentiality has been breached after details about former clients of a clinic at the middle of a gastric banding row were leaked to the press.
Earlier this week, a number of patients of Dr Laszlo Ruscsak claimed he had not provided after-care following operations to fit gastric bands, which help with weight loss.
But in an astonishing attempt to clear his name, an email from a yahoo.com account purporting to come from Dr Ruscsak was sent yesterday, containing confidential patient details.
The patients had used the Haven Cosmetic Surgery in south Co. Dublin, which closed down a few weeks ago.
The subject of the email was ‘from Dr Janos Bende’ – the surgeon who carried out the gastric banding operations at the Bariatric Centre in Budapest, Hungary.
The email rejected the claims of ‘Marie’ – a patient who said she had received only two after-care appointments and was then ignored by Dr Ruscsak despite paying €2,500 to be seen – saying she ‘was not a perfect candidate for gastric banding’ and that ‘the procedure was done to her on her insisting request’.
It continued: ‘There has never been signed any contract or other official document for any extra service for €2,500 mentioned in the report.’ And the email said of complications experienced by ‘Sarah’ another patient: ’caused not by too tight band’.
She claimed she ended up having to have an emergency operation to remove part of her stomach after complications. The email included private medical information about the medical history of ‘Sarah’, as well as a photograph of both her and ‘Marie’.
It added: ‘We have not stopped the aftercare of our patients. We just closed our facility in Dublin for financial reason.
‘Our patients can still visit our Bariatric Centre in Budapest for consultation at any time for free.’
It ended: ‘Finally, there is always around 2% of patients who are not satisfied completely. Fortunately, there is the rest 98% of them who are decent.
They strictly keep the rules prescribed to them and therefore their treatment goes without any problem.
‘Kind regards, Dr. Janos Bende (and) Dr. Laszlo Ruscsak.’ Yesterday, the HSE launched an investigation into claims that Dr Ruscsak used public hospitals for his consultations.
Dr Ruscsak has been suspended from his post at Ennis General Hospital, where he was last based as a registered anaesthetist, and evicted from his HSE accommodation.
Officials have received claims that Dr Ruscsak ran ‘private clinics’ at another six public hospitals, including Mayo, Wexford, Cavan and Letterkenny. The investigation follows calls made to Liveline on Tuesday by former patients.
They claimed they received little or no after-care following gastric band operations organised through his Dublin clinic in Budapest.
And yesterday, more patients called Liveline, including one 41-year-old company manager who had a gastric band operation done last week but has yet to have the stitches taken out.
The caller said: ‘I am aware patients are not happy with him but I have so far nothing bad to say about him.
‘What I am worried about, however, is who is going to take my stitches out.’ Another caller told how a friend lost contact with Dr Ruscsak when she started to experience ‘problems’ after a gastric band insertion.
She claimed all calls and emails were ignored but it was only when the friend sent an email posing as a potential patient that Dr Ruscsak replied.
When told of the email, ‘Sarah’ said: ‘I’m so angry. How dare he? That’s totally confidential.
‘I’m in shock. I’m raging. This guy is a total low-life.’
An HSE spokesman said: ‘We are investigating the conduct of a locum consultant anaesthetist.’
A gastric band is placed around the stomach to slow the food passing through to make patients feel fuller for longer.