What do you call a doctor that graduates at the bottom of his class? A doctor.
What do you call a doctor that graduates at the bottom of his class, gets sanctioned for professional misconduct, gets their license revoked, manages to get a job as Director of Surgery at a large regional hospital, and causes the deaths of thirteen odd patients? Doctor Death.
Doctor Jayant Patel worked at the Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland, Australia, from 2003 to 2005. In that two year span, the hospital received complaint after complaint about his unprofessional manner, his dangerous lack of hygiene – oh yeah, and his tendency to remove the wrong organ from patients. The unprecedented number of patients that died under Doctor Patel’s care led the media to label him Doctor Death – but unlike his American counterpart, Doctor Patel was not a cold blooded killer.
He was just really, really shitty at his job.
He was eventually tried for the death of three patients and the grievous bodily harm of another, but Doctor Patel’s reign of terror was allowed to rage on for far too long – possibly due to the fact that, due to his speed in conducting these surgeries, Bundaberg Base Hospital was receiving financial incentives from Queensland Health.
Our main source this week was the official inquiry into Doctor Patel and the Bundaberg Base Hospital, known as the Davies Inquiry. If you’re a fan of reading government documents, this one’s a real killer. http://www.qphci.qld.gov.au/final_report/Final_Report.pdf
The High Court decision can be read here http://netk.net.au/Australia/Patel.asp
An overview of Doctor Patel’s record in New York and at Kaiser Permanente can be read here http://blog.oregonlive.com/oregonianextra/2009/02/_australia_ready_to_charge.html#1
Feeling fancy? Even the New York Times wrote about Patel. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/19/world/asia/deaths-and-a-doctors-past-transfix-australians.html