Patel accused of litany of lies and deceit
| February 10, 2009 - 4:08AM
With little more than the click of a mouse, banned US surgeon
Jayant Patel was able to secure the most senior surgery post at
Bundaberg Base Hospital, where several patients would later die
under his care, a court heard yesterday.
Crown prosecutors now pursuing the Indian-trained doctor on 14
criminal charges stemming from his time in the Queensland coastal
town between 2003 and 2005 allege he was able to conceal a career
littered with complaints and disciplinary action overseas by
deliberately falsifying his resume and lying in his application for
He is also accused of causing the death of a number of his
patients, including a man who allegedly had his entire bowel cut
out in an "unnecessary" operation, a renal patient allegedly left
to bleed to death while Patel saw to non-urgent cases, and a cancer
sufferer who mistakenly had a benign tumour removed instead of a
On yesterday's opening day of a three-week committal hearing
decide whether Patel will stand trial, the Brisbane Magistrates
Court heard the Queensland Health official responsible for hiring
the now 58-year-old medico made no attempt to verify false claims
made in his CV about the length of time he had served with his
previous employer, or details of his long history of misconduct,
which resulted in the surrender of his US medical license and
investigations in two US states.
Instead, former acting director of medical services at
Bundaberg, Dr Kees Nydam, almost immediately recommended Patel's
appointment at the hospital after receiving his emailed resume
through a job agency, believing Patel was a medical "missionary"
seeking to use his medical skills to do good.
The court heard the Medical Board of Queensland and an
sub-committee also both failed to pick up on "anomalies" in Patel's
registration application which would have stopped him gaining work
"The mindset that I had at the time was that it was a
appointment," Dr Nydam said of the failure to thoroughly interview
Patel or put him before a recruitment panel.
"I was impressed by the fact that the (previous) employer had
been Kaiser Permanente. They are seen by some as being leaders in
quality assurance. I guess there was probably a halo effect.
"He made it clear he was not interested in the money.
"I remember him telling me he was retired. I remember him
telling me he was trying to look at an opportunity to give back to
the community anywhere in the world."
Dressed in a dark suit and with his head bowed, Patel was
allowed to sit at the bar table beside his legal team while a
picture emerged of a man seemingly undeterred by professional
censure - including bans on the type of surgery he could perform
and a three year stint of probation.
Prosecutors cited strong support from several of his former US
peers who would variously describe him as a "genius", and his
contribution to the medical profession "exceptional".
Leading Crown barrister Ross Martin SC said trouble began
in Patel's career, having been sacked from his first job at a New
York state hospital in 1982 - just five years after graduating -
for completing a patient's medical charts without examining them
and failing to properly provide care.
The court heard he later lied in an application for a job at a
second New York hospital posting and was hauled before a
disciplinary hearing in 1984. He was given probation before moving
to Oregon, where the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners launched its
own inquiry into his practise in 1998.
In 2000, after having been found guilty of "gross and repeated
acts of misconduct", Patel signed a consent order agreeing to stop
performing certain types of surgery and to seek a second opinion
before putting his patients under the knife.
He eventually surrendered his New York medical license in 2001
and was unable to gain work for more than a year before his resume
landed in Dr Nydam's inbox in late November 2002.
Mr Martin told the court Patel failed to notify Queensland
authorities of his past history and tried to cover up his year of
unemployment by falsifying the dates on his resume.
By December 28, however, he was formally offered the job at
"He effectively removed a substantial gap in his career which
may have raised questions," Mr Martin said.
"He was registered. He would not have been if the truth had
Dr Nydam agreed he would not have hired the US surgeon had he
known of his past, but admitted Bundaberg Base Hospital was in a
state of chaos at the time, with a growing surgery waiting list and
staff regularly sent on "fatigue leave"
He also conceded during cross examination by Patel's lawyers
that the US citizen was not given any formal hand-over by senior
staff, nor a basic hospital orientation, before starting work as
the director of surgery on April 1, 2003. He said he was "not
surprised" Patel had been put on call every night for the first 30
days of his employment there.
"Staffing at that time was chaotic," Dr Nydam said.
"It's a long time ago and it's a time I would much prefer to
The hearing will resume on Wednesday.