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`Dr Patel lacked technical skills as a surgeon`

Indian-origin surgeon Jayant Patel, accused of man slaughter, lacked technical skills as a surgeon and had searched for a cancerous node in the wrong place during an operation, an Australian court was told Tuesday.



Melbourne: Indian-origin surgeon Jayant Patel, accused of man slaughter, lacked technical skills as a surgeon and had searched for a cancerous node in the wrong place during an operation, an Australian court was told Tuesday.

Renowned surgeon John Rodney Allsop, an expert witness, told at Patel`s manslaughter trial that he would have never gone ahead with an oesophagectomy on 46-year-old James
Phillips, who died in May 2003 after the accused performed the surgery for throat cancer.

Patel, dubbed as `Dr Death`, was allegedly responsible for the deaths of three patients and left a man impaired after performing a "careless" surgery on him.

Allsop reviewed Patel`s patient files before offering expert advice at the trial in Brisbane Supreme Court.

The 60-year-old doctor would have been left "scratching his head" mid-surgery after failing to rectify a major discrepancy before Phillips` operation, he said.

There was a 10 cm discrepancy between a specialist doctor`s endoscopy report on Phillips` oesophagus and Patel`s interpretation from a CT scan, he said.

Allsop said the "fundamental" discrepancy would have left Patel searching for a cancerous node in the wrong place.

"Ten centimetres is four inches so there`s a big discrepancy between where the endoscopist says the legions is and where Dr Patel`s interpretation (of where it is) from the CT scan," Allsop was quoted as saying by Australian agency AAP.

"That`s a discrepancy that you would want resolved before you even contemplate an operation. He would have been scratching his head."

Allsop said he would not have chosen to operate on Phillips because the patient was too ill.

"I would have run a mile from this man as an oesophagectomy patient," he told the court.

The surgeon also criticised Patel`s surgical abilities, noting he twice failed to insert a central venous (CV) line into Phillips.

"He lacks technical competency at doing very straight forward exercises that any surgeon, certainly a surgeon that`s contemplating a surgery of magnitude of an oesophagectomy," he said. "This (inserting the CV line) should be bread and butter
for them."

Allsop also levelled criticism at Queensland Health, saying Phillips` operation should never have gone ahead without `bear huggers` - a medical blanket used to keep
patients warm.

The court was told that Phillips` core body temperature dropped as low as 33 degrees, about four degrees below average, during the operation.
"There should be facilities in the surgery theatre to keep the patient warm," he said. "It`s astounding... a disgrace to the Queensland health system. "
The "profoundly low" temperature of Phillips would have been to his detriment and would have been a factor in his death, Allsop added.

PTI

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