Clinic director, anesthetist and AHPRA face medical negligence case

Date: May 17, 2012

A group of women have launched a class action against the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and other targets after it was found that an anesthetist may have been responsible for spreading an infectious disease.

It has been confirmed that as many as 50 women who attended the Croydon House Day Surgery when it was in operation wound up contracting a form of hepatitis C.

Subsequent investigations pointed to anesthetist Dr James Latham Peters, who those looking into the matter have found was aware of his condition for at least ten years.

The case itself is seeking payments for the pain and suffering, medical expenses and loss of income that the victims have experienced since becoming infected with the disease.

According to reports, the group alleged that the AHPRA failed in its duty to ensure the safety of patients at the clinic in question – making it the first time that the agency has been included in this kind of action.

Medical negligence lawyers are able to review cases like these in order to determine who may have been involved in the incident concerned and whether it is worth the time and expense to pursue a particular case.

This class action is also taking legislative measures against Dr Mark Schulberg who was the director of Croydon House Day Surgery at the time the procedures allegedly took place.

Naturally, Dr Peters is also included in the scope of the case, with the participants alleging that he is the common source of the hepatitis C outbreak.

Evidence compiled by the Victorian Department of Human Services (DHS) has been said to show that the anesthetist is the original point of contact for all the victims found with the disease.

In 2010 Dr John Carnie from the DHS found a number of cases were linked to the Croydon facility – with further investigations showing that the genetic code of the virus were too similar to have come from separate sources.

Talking to independent Australian magazine The Monthly back in August 2010, Dr Carnie explained why he initially chose to take his findings to the police.

The professional medical investigator asserted: "I could not think of any way that could be done by accident, and without some strange behaviour."

Dr Carnie went on to say that a range of "legitimate issues" needed to be discussed in relation to the case – including whether or not AHPRA could have done more to protect the interests of the clinic's patients.

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