Justice Done In Jayant Patel Case?


A physician, first disciplined for medical malpractice in New York, is finally convicted of manslaughter and causing grievous bodily injury. On Thursday, July 1st, surgeon, Jayant Patel, was sentenced to seven years in an Australian prison for performing surgeries that left three patients dead, and one without a bowel. Patel had an almost thirty-year history of malpractice in the United States after commiting numerous surgical errors in both New York and Oregon. In 1982, Patel was first sanctioned in Buffalo, New York for “professional misconduct” and ” practicing medicine with incompetancy”. His medical license was suspended for six months. Patel appealed the decision, his license was reinstated, and he was placed on probation for three years.

In 1988, Patel moved to Oregon and gained employment performing surgeries again after showing various hospitals glowing references. What followed was a horrific string of botched surgeries, resulting in numerous patients deaths, and in one case, a man almost losing his bowel due to a surgery “done backwards”. In 2000, “Dr. Death”, as he soon began to be called, was fired from the hospital at which he worked and he was disciplined by the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners. In 2001, Patel was forced to surrender his New York State medical license.

In 2003, Patel again began to perform surgeries in Bundaberg, Australia after he again gave employers glowing references. Again, Patel left death, and injury in his wake. Four patients, in a showing of horrific and gross malpractice on Patel’s part, died, and a healthy man was disembowled. Patel fled to the United States in 2004, but was extradited back to Australia in 2008 to face three charges of manslaughter, five charges of causing grievous bodily harm, four negligent acts causing harm, and eight charges of fraud. After pleading not guilty, he stood trial and was convicted on June 29, 2010.

Finally, the family members of the deceased, and Patel’s victims can see that some justice has been done! I congratulate the Australian prosecutors on a job well-done in getting a conviction in this case. However, was it enough? It is extremely disturbing that it took so long for Patel to be criminally punished, and that he was never criminally punished in the United States. Furthermore, his sentence seems extremely lenient in comparison to the horrific nature of his crimes. What do you think? Should he have been sentenced more harshly?

This case should serve as a warning to patients, hospital, and their administrators to always check out your doctors’ credentials. Always check to see if your physician has been sanctioned or otherwise disciplined by your State’s Board, and be wary of doctors that seem to have done a lot of traveling between states. Always try and get a reliable reference for your doctors whether you are a hospital or a patient. NEVER take one glowing reference as surefire evidence of his or her competence.