Just like any other medical practitioner, anaesthetists have a duty of care to appropriately look after patients that require their professional assistance. When a person in this position breaches their duty of care, patients may have a case for medical negligence. This was evident in a recent case involving a negligent anaesthetist.
Background of the first hearing
The practitioner was a special anaesthetist. On March 4, 2019, the delegates of the Medical Council of NSW (the Council) conducted proceedings under Health Practitioner Regulation National Law relevant to the practitioner’s conduct on November 15, 2018. The delegates decided that the practitioner’s registration should be suspended on and from March 4, 2019. But what led to this decision?
On November 15, 2018, the practitioner was working as an anaesthetist for a number of patients at a Sydney hospital. It is asserted by the practitioner that, at the invitation of the colorectal surgeon, he put on a glove and conducted a rectal examination of a 37-year-old patient who was admitted for a colonoscopy and biopsy of a rectal mass.
The colorectal surgeon is asserted to have said inappropriate words to the practitioner and photographed him whilst he undertook an examination of the patient.
Complaints were made to the hospital by nursing theatre staff about the conduct of the colorectal surgeon and the practitioner. After careful consideration, the hospital terminated the practitioner’s accreditation from January 8, 2019.
How did the practitioner respond?
On March 26, 2019, the practitioner lodged an appeal in the Tribunal. He claimed the decision to suspend his registration was unreasonable and unjust, and because he was no longer working, continued to suffer serious financial stress.
What did the Tribunal decide?
The Tribunal had to decide whether the practitioner posed a risk to future patients. While they acknowledged the severity of the incident, they also accepted his admittance of wrong-doing, and felt he was not likely to engage in similar conduct. It took into account the anaesthetist’s age and how the suspension would impact his career and income.
As such, it decided to let the appeal progress and give fair opportunity for the practitioner to compile a defence.
Medical negligence cases can be difficult to settle. This is why it pays to have expert lawyers on hand to guide you through each procedural step. Get in touch with the medical negligence legal team at Gerard Malouf & Partners if you’d like to find out how we can help you with a claim for compensation.