Sat, Jun 11, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Probe urges charging runaway surgeon with murder

`DR. DEATH' US citizen Jayant Patel, who is linked to the death of 87 patients in Australia in two years, is currently at large and the target of a global manhunt

AP , SYDNEY

An Indian-trained surgeon linked by health officials to the deaths of at least 87 patients in Australia over two years should be charged with murder, a government inquiry recommended yesterday.

Jayant Patel, an Indian-born US citizen, was hired by the Bundaberg Base Hospital in 2003 despite having been cited for negligence in the US states of Oregon and New York, where he was forced to surrender his license in 2001.

The Commission of Inquiry investigating Patel's practice at the Bundaberg hospital recommended in an interim report Friday that he be charged with murder in the death of James Edward Phillips, who died five days after Patel surgically removed part of his esophagus.

Several other doctors had refused to carry out the surgery on Phillips, who had several complications, according to testimony from a doctor and a nurse who worked with Patel.

The doctor, Peter Miach, said the operation was "fraught with danger" and that he "would have been very surprised if [the patient] would have survived."

In recommending the murder charge, the report said there was no doubt the surgery was "likely to endanger human life."

The inquiry also recommended that Patel -- dubbed "Dr. Death" by the Australian media -- be charged with negligence causing bodily harm in relation to an Aboriginal patient, Marilyn Daisy, who developed gangrene in her leg after she was allegedly left without treatment for several weeks following an amputation performed by Patel.

Patel has also been accused of making false representations and fraud for allegedly falsifying his application to practice medicine in Australia by removing any mention of his disciplinary history in the US.

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