Yet another 'rogue' doctor surfaces in Australia. Ten women have lodged strong complaints against Czech-trained obstetrician Ramon Hasil of New South Wales. The man has already been suspended from practice, but he denies wrongdoing.
Complaints range from medical negligence to sexual assault and relate to events that happened between 2001 and 2005 at the
Lismore Base Hospital. The aggrieved patients have gone before the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC).
NSW Health Minister John Della Bosca today said the complaints would be investigated by two independent bodies, as he faced state opposition calls for an inquiry to be led by a former federal court judge.
"The complaints made against this doctor are being investigated by the HCCC and the NSW Medical Board - two independent bodies," Mr Della Bosca said.
"These matters are being investigated and it's best that investigation proceeds without interference or undue influence.
"It's always very concerning if patients feel they have received care that wasn't up to standard or worse," the minister also said.
Della Bosca said Hasil had been suspended from practising medicine in NSW since February, when a report by New Zealand authorities highlighted a string of botched procedures he had performed in that country in 2005-06.
The NZ probe found Hasil had performed eight unsuccessful sterilisation procedures, that he took the ovaries of a woman without her knowledge and that he drank on the job.
Liberal leader Barry O'Farrell today asked why the Government had remained silent on the Hasil case during the public controversy surrounding former Bega-based doctor Graeme Reeves, who is now facing 17 malpractice-related charges.
"This is yet another example of Labor putting its political interests ahead of the interests of patients and the public, and that's why an independent inquiry is needed," O'Farrell said.
The Reeves case early this year led to a review of doctor oversight mechanisms in NSW, and new mandatory reporting requirements for medicos came into effect in NSW this month.
Australian Medical Association (AMA) NSW president Dr Brian Morton said the law changes and the looming move to a national register for doctors had reduced the chance alleged "rogue" doctors could continue to operate.
"I think there will always be cases like this because doctors represent the same (types of people) in the rest of the community," Dr Morton said.
"(But) the community can be reassured that the proportion of doctors who I'd describe as being rogue, is extremely small."
NSW has about 18,000 doctors.
The Medical Error Action Group also today called for a national approach to weeding out problem doctors.
Group founder Lorraine Long said bad doctors often kept their jobs in regional areas because of doctor shortages.
"Hospitals have got to throw out bad doctors. They have got to weed them out of the system," she said.
"The problem is there is a doctors' shortage, especially in the regional hospitals, and they will put in any doctor into that position. They don't care, because they have the patients coming into the door."