Practitioner appeals against HCCC complaint

Date: Aug 01, 2018

Patients can have negative reactions to anaesthesia during surgery, which can include minor symptoms such as muscle soreness, or major symptoms such as brain damage. About ten per cent of patients have some form of reaction to anaesthesia, according to the Australian Society of Anaesthetists.

A woman who was having a breast augmentation done experienced a cardiac arrest during the surgery, leading to a complaint from the Heath Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) against the doctor. The practitioner has filed an appeal against the complaint.

Events that led to the complaint

During a routine breast augmentation surgery, the applicant had made the necessary incisions to insert the implants inside of the tissue. One incision was left open to ensure that any bleeding issues could be addressed prior to complete closure of the tissue. The applicant then went on with the next necessary incisions.

It was during this time that the patient suffered a cardiac arrest. CPR was administered and the patient was intubated. Cardiac function was restored after the patient received one shock from a DC cardioversion. The patient was diagnosed with anaesthetic toxicity and was treated accordingly before the procedure continued.

The patient then made a full recovery following the surgery.

Grounds for complaint

The HCCC claimed that the applicant carried out unsatisfactory professional conduct during the events of the surgery, and the original proceedings in the Professional Standards Committee took place in July 2017.

These proceedings led to a finding that the applicant had conducted himself in a unsatisfactory professional manner by completing the cosmetic surgery before the patient was moved to an acute care facility. Reprimands were imposed on his registration.

The applicant filed the appeal citing s 158 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, which allows for a health practitioner to provide new or additional evidence in an appeal to the complaint.

The decision

The applicant gathered opinions from other practitioners in the field that supported that the applicant's conduct was not significantly below the standards expected of a practitioner with similar training or experience. Although the respondent (the HCCC) brought forward other expert opinions, these did not indicate that the decisions of the applicant were significantly below reasonable standards.

The Civil and Administrative Tribunal in New South Wales did not find that the conduct of the applicant was significantly below the reasonable standards expected from someone of his level of training and experience, and thus the HCCC's complaint was not proved. The appeal was allowed and the complaint was dismissed.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of medical negligence, get in touch with our experienced team of lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers today. 

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