India-born doctor Jayant Patel “failed to adequately investigate” cancer concerns in a patient before he removed his colon, an Australian court was told on Wednesday.
A local doctor, Marthinus Nel, referred one of his patients, Mervyn John Morris (75) to the Bundaberg Base Hospital, where Dr. Patel (59) was director of surgery, for further tests after he became concerned that he might have cancer. However, Dr. Patel allegedly “failed to adequately investigate” these concerns before removing part of the colon. Morris later died, Australian news agency AAP reported on Wednesday.
Dr. Patel has pleaded not guilty in the Supreme Court in Brisbane to the manslaughter of Morris and two other patients, Gerry Kemps and James Edward Phillips. He has also pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Ian Rodney Vowles (62).
The charges relate to Dr. Patel's time as director of surgery at the Bundaberg Base Hospital between 2003 and 2005.
Dr. Nel told the Supreme Court he ordered a number of tests on Morris in 2003 after the patient complained of weight loss following radiation treatment for prostate cancer. Morris was also suffering from intermittent rectal bleeding.
Dr. Nel said the tests revealed a “suspicious mass” on Morris' liver, which he feared could be cancer.
“I have real concerns that this man is harbouring a malignancy which is responsible for his loss of appetite, loss of weight and his obstructive liver biochemistry,” Dr. Nel had written in his letter of referral in March 2003 to the Bundaberg Hospital.
However, the prosecution has alleged that Dr. Patel, who operated on Morris just a few weeks later, “failed to properly investigate” these concerns before removing part of his colon.
Dr. Nel, who was Morris's general practitioner since 2000, said he never had any discussion with Dr. Patel about his patient's condition.