17 April 2005 -- Dr Jayant Patel, an Indian-American surgeon dubbed "Dr Death" by his Australian colleagues, fled the country amid investigations by police and health officials over at least 14 botched operations at Bundaberg Hospital in Queensland, Australia.
The Australian media is reporting that he may be responsible for a number of patient deaths and injuries from his two-year tenure at Bundaberg. A note on the door of his Washington County home in Oregon warned media to stay away but gave no clue as to his whereabouts.
In Australia evidence has emerged that Dr Patel acted to prevent autopsies on his patients and fast-tracked burials to hide the results of his medical incompetence. Senior police said that could amount to criminal negligence. News reports also say that medical records in the US have confirmed he was responsible for at least three deaths there.
According to the Oregon state Board of Medical Examiners, Patel was disciplined in 2000 for "gross or repeated acts of negligence." He was also found to have engaged in "unprofessional or dishonorable conduct," while working for Kaiser Permanente, board records said. According to the board's records, Patel performed a "colostomy backwards," and the patient required additional surgery.
Among the cases that led to the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners' findings in November 2000 were:
• A man, 65, who died in November 1994 two days after Dr Patel performed pancreatic surgery. He had seven litres of blood in his abdomen.
• A woman, 83, who died in November 1996 of post-operative complications, seven days after Dr Patel performed pancreatic and colon surgery. She was found with a litre of blood in her abdomen.
• A man, 67, who died in September 1997 the day after Dr Patel performed liver surgery. He had almost two litres of blood in his abdomen.
• A man, 59, who permanently lost gastrointestinal function in August 1997 after Dr Patel performed a colostomy "backwards".
Dr Patel's involvement in the deaths and injury were uncovered by an inquiry by the private Portland hospital where he was working and the incidents had occurred.
In 1998, the Kaiser Permanente Northwest Hospital became concerned about Dr Patel's conduct and reviewed 79 of his patient files.
The hospital banned Dr Patel from carrying out surgery involving the pancreas and restrictions were placed on him performing surgery on the liver and ileoanal pouches.
Yesterday, the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners revoked Dr Patel's licence on the grounds that he hadn't told them he had moved his practice. The board had disciplined him in 2000 for "gross or repeated acts of negligence".
The Courier-Mail of Australia reportedly tracked down Dr Patel to a million-dollar mansion in Portland, Oregon. And when confronted by the media, he is reported to have said "My attorney has told me not to say anything."
Meanwhile, according to news reports, Dr Patel's brother in Portland says the disgraced surgeon has not told him about his problems in Australia. Ashish Patel says his brother has moved to New York after arriving in Portland, Oregon. "I just picked him up from the airport one day and that's all I know," he said.
"He didn't tell me anything. I mean essentially he was there for one year and then he extended his contract and his contract expired and he came back here. That's what he told me. He's going to go back to New York and work that's what I was told."