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Mentally Ill Australian Doctor Treated Skin Cancer Patients For Years

by Gopalan on November 25, 2008 at 11:46 AM
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 Mentally Ill Australian Doctor Treated Skin Cancer Patients For Years

The Australian GP who treated skin cancer patients for years had "a delusional disorder of a persecutory type" and refused to accept fault. He wrote "psychopath" on the files of some patients who complained.

As the Sydney doctor David Lindsay's curious practice hogs the headlines, more disturbing details continue to emerge.

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David Lindsay, 43, a GP, operated his sole bulk-billing practice, Skin Cancer Clinic Sydney in George Street from 1998 to last December, until he was suspended after at least 60 complaints dating back to 1993.

The NSW Medical Tribunal found him guilty of professional misconduct in August and deregistered him for at least three years. He was prosecuted over 26 complaints, which had escalated at an "alarming rate" since 2005. The tribunal said most complaints related to his behaviour. Mr Lindsay abused his patients and their families when they complained about his treatment and was guilty of a "significant lack of clinical skills" in three cases, two of which "could be said to have demonstrated cruelty".
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The tribunal also said the GP had "a delusional disorder of a persecutory type" and refused to accept fault. He wrote "psychopath" on the files of some patients who complained. He also lied in their medical notes and blamed his mother, Tallulah Glynne, who worked as a financial controller at the surgery, when errors in his case were exposed.

The acting Chief Health Officer of New South Wales Health, Kerry Chant, yesterday announced the investigation had led the department to write to 6770 people urging them to seek medical attention.

Dr Chant said the department was concerned for the welfare of at least 1310 patients with serious skin cancers because it was not clear whether they received any follow-up appointments and some had not been properly treated. Registered letters were sent on Friday to these patients.

"A review of pathology results on removed lesions taken by the former Dr Lindsay indicated that in some cases, he failed to remove enough material to be sure that the skin cancer was completely removed," Dr Chant said.

Lindsay froze off an "excessive" 250 sunspots in a single session, spraying a woman's hands, arms, head and face using cryotherapy and ignored her when she cried out in pain for him to stop. She is still scarred from the treatment.

One of the three serious clinical cases was a patient who suffered from a "massive bleed from the wound" after he removed a basal cell carcinoma from her thigh without anaesthetic last year, Natasha Wallace reported for Sydney Morning Herald.

"Words cannot describe the agony I went through. To have subcutaneous tissue shaved away when one is fully conscious and can feel everything that is being done, is hell to say the least," the woman told the tribunal.

Mr Lindsay also failed to inform another patient for two years of pathology results that showed he had a skin cancer on his cheek and needed it removed.

He also froze off an "excessive" 250 sunspots in a single session, spraying a woman's hands, arms, head and face using cryotherapy and ignored her when she cried out in pain for him to stop. She is still scarred from the treatment.

The Health Department was contacted by the Commonwealth Professional Services Review committee in September over concerns with Mr Lindsay's clinical practice which arose during its investigation into his "irregular billing practices". The committee is yet to complete its report.

An expert panel set up by NSW Health reviewed 15,559 pathology records of 9440 patients seen by Mr Lindsay in his clinic between December 1998 and December 2007.

Dr Chant said the department was concerned for the welfare of at least 1310 patients with serious skin cancers because it was not clear whether they received any follow-up appointments and some had not been properly treated. Registered letters were sent on Friday to these patients.

"A review of pathology results on removed lesions taken by the former Dr Lindsay indicated that in some cases, he failed to remove enough material to be sure that the skin cancer was completely removed," Dr Chant said.

The department has written to a further 5460 "lower risk category" patients, she said. "Those letters also recommend these patients see their GP if they have not received appropriate medical follow-up since last being seen in the former Dr Lindsay's clinic." Dr Chant said she was unable to say how many of the 6770 patients treated for skin cancers and other skin lesions had inadequate excises.

Mr Lindsay has appealed against the tribunal's decision.

But Mr Lindsay, who has appealed against the tribunal's move to deregister him, remains unfazed.

Lindsay defended his treatment of patients yesterday, telling reporters "they've all been cured".

"They've been trying to get more for over 20 years now, virtually for all my career. I'm the most investigated doctor in Australia," he boasted. 

Source: Medindia
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