Melbourne: An Australian court, hearing the case of Indian American doctor Jayant Patel, was Tuesday told that a patient who died after being operated by the surgeon was fully aware of the risk of death but chose the procedure as it was the best option to save his life.
Patel is accused of causing deaths of three Queensland patients and permanently injuring another when he performed operations as director of surgery at the Bundaberg Base
Hospital between 2003 and 2005.
During the ongoing trial in Brisbane Supreme Court, it was heard that 46-year old James Edward Phillips died because his long-standing kidney problems were not treated effectively following an oesophagectomy by Patel at the Bundaberg Base Hospital in May 2003, according to AAP report.
The court heard that due to a lack of ultrasound equipment at the hospital, Patel had to fly "blind" to insert a central venous line (CVL).
Anaesthetist Alison McCready told the court that the jugular vein was cut, which resulted in the patient losing blood and requiring four bags of intravenous fluids. As a result, the CVL could not be inserted to measure body fluids.
Patel, accused of manslaughter, has been dubbed as `Dr Death` by the media here, and was extradited from the US for a trial last year.
The court heard that when red blood cells are stored in bags for a period of time, they change and may have a higher potassium level.
"We always have to bear it in mind, but there didn`t seem to be an alternative to replace red blood cells that he had lost," McCready said.
As Phillips was suffering from kidney failure, the court heard he was unable to process the built-up potassium, which could not be measured properly due to the lack of a CVL.
The build-up of potassium led eventually to Phillips suffering a fatal heart attack.
During cross-examination, Patel`s defence barrister Michael Byrne QC asked McCready if Phillips had wanted the operation, knowing it was his best chance for a cure and that
he had accepted the risk of death.
"I recall that being my understanding at the time and that those things were mentioned on the consent form, including risk of death," McCready replied.
Earlier, McCready told the court that she had taken over from anaesthetist Martin Carter during the operation because Carter had to leave.