A SURGEON being sued for allegedly performing botched gynaecological operations on women in WA hospitals has been banned from practising medicine.
The obstetrician and gynaecologist, who has now left the country, has been permanently stripped of his right ever to work as a doctor in WA.
The ban comes as the Medical Board of WA pursues further shocking allegations of misconduct by the surgeon involving more than 100 female patients.
The Sunday Times can now reveal the first details of what is potentially the most serious medical scandal in the state’s history after a blanket suppression order was partially lifted on Monday following legal action by this newspaper and the Medical Board.
It can now be reported:
The doctor is facing civil court claims that could result in large compensation payouts for the State Government.
One woman interviewed by The Sunday Times said she was “angered and disgusted at the outcome” and the doctor had left her “feeling and thinking I’m not normal”.
While knowing of the investigation against him, the doctor attempted to cover up the allegations while trying to obtain work overseas. He lied in an interview and produced fake documents of his good standing in WA.
The judge who banned the doctor ruled his behaviour as “disgraceful or dishonourable” conduct for a member of the medical profession.
The scandal was so serious former attorney-general and health minister Jim McGinty thought public exposure so important he personally intervened and challenged the suppression in late 2007. He lost the application.
The Medical Board lawyers have been fighting to suspend the doctor since November 2005 and have filed 14 complaints against him in the State Administrative Tribunal.
The Sunday Times, which understands all potentially affected WA patients have been contacted by health officials, has been investigating the scandal for more than a year, fighting to bring the case to the public’s attention.
The doctor is also being sued by five former patients in the District Court, seeking personal-injury damages for medical negligence. More civil actions will follow in coming months.
One woman claims in a writ that surgery performed by the doctor “constituted trespass as it was performed in the absence of the plaintiff’s consent to do so”.
Another alleged victim and her husband filed a writ over a botched sterilisation in which the doctor failed to apply a fishie clip to her right fallopian tube and resulted in her becoming pregnant and having a child.
The doctor at the centre of the scandal is now believed to be in South Africa, having fled halfway through the tribunal and court proceedings. He hasn’t worked in WA since June 2006.
Tribunal president John Chaney ordered the doctor’s permanent work ban in March this year and in a judgment found he deceived South African health officials while trying to work at a hospital near Durban.
The Sunday Times has not been able to report on the ban until now.
Most of the allegations have been kept secret for more than three years because the doctor’s lawyer has argued he was suicidal and publicity would worsen his depression.
In the past year an international contingent of psychiatrists, including an Oxford University professor of old-age psychiatry, have been called to assess the mental health of the surgeon. All found he had depression, but the experts varied in their opinions of the severity of his illness.
On Monday, the Medical Board asked for his name to be made public, arguing that while they did not believe the doctor was lying about his symptoms, he was “using psychiatrists in a manipulative way” and some reports should be treated “with caution”.
But the doctor’s lawyer, Martin Bennett, said his depression had not improved and publication would lead to a deterioration of his condition including a stay in hospital. “If you are going to bet on this — it is a very unfortunate thing to bet on someone’s life,” Mr Bennett said.
Judge Chaney allowed his judgment to be made public but he ordered the continued suppression of the doctor’s identity and all details of the 13 unresolved tribunal cases, including patient names
Mediation is listed for later this year but one alleged victim said she was “angered” that she has been gagged from talking about her case and the length of time taken in hearing her complaints.
Health Minister Kim Hames declined to comment.
The Sunday Times has lodged an appeal in the WA Supreme Court seeking to overturn the remaining suppression orders and allow us to inform the WA public about what is going on.
As reported by Todd Cardy, court reporter on July 25, 2009 09:00pm http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,25835168-948,00.html