A British doctor who has been convicted of carrying out needless operations in the UK may be guilty of up to 1,000 cases of medical negligence.
Rogue surgeon Ian Paterson has already cost the country’s taxpayers £18 million (AU$30.8 million) in damages following 250 settled negligence claims, with £9.5 million paid to victims and £8.2 million covering costs.
A further 350 individuals are already suing the doctor, who was convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent in April against one male and nine female victims. Paterson was granted bail and will be sentenced this month.
Medical negligence claims soar
According to the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, more than 600 people have launched civil cases against Paterson since his misdeeds came to light.
The medical practitioner performed a number of unnecessary operations on women who feared they had cancer, including mastectomies, which involves the removal of one or both breasts.
He also regularly performed a dangerous procedure that he invented called a ‘cleavage-sparing mastectomy’, an operation designed to provide a better cosmetic effect after surgery.
However, this type of mastectomy sometimes left behind tissue that put patients at risk of developing secondary cancers. Some people have since died from the disease after Paterson treated them.
Lessons to be learned
Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, an academic lawyer specialising in ethics and health, conducted an independent report investigating Paterson in 2013, which revealed concerns into the doctor’s practices as far back as 2003.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Ian said the UK’s National Health Service is largely fine, but there exists “dark corners” in which “things continue to go wrong”.
“This is an unalloyed tragedy, but there are wider implications – how was it for so long, in the NHS, that Mr Paterson was allowed to get away with what he was doing?” he stated.
Sir Ian added that medical practitioners must “stand up to charismatic, powerful, apparently good-performing professionals” within their ranks.
Medical negligence claims in Australia
Paterson performed surgery on 4,424 people through the NHS, according to Heart of England Foundation Trust figures, but he is suspected of treating thousands more privately that could result in negligence claims.
While this case occurred in the UK, negligence laws in Australia mean anyone who believes they have suffered injuries due to doctors or other medical practitioners breaching their duty of care may be eligible for compensation.
Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of the illness in Australia, with government figures estimating that more than 17,000 women and 140 men will be diagnosed with the disease this year.
Would you like to discuss medical negligence claims? Please contact a lawyer at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.