Jayant Patel (60), an American doctor practicing in Sydney Australia has been convicted of 3 counts of manslaughter and one charge of grievous bodily harm in connection with his treatment of four patients. Patel is accused of botching a several operations while he was the chief surgeon at an Australian hospital. The jury found him guilty on all charges. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
While this trial took place in Australia, it shares many common themes with medical malpractice trials in the United States. For example, Dr. Patel denied any wrongdoing, claimed he was innocent on all charges. In addition, Dr. Patel raised the two most common defenses that arise in medical malpractice claims (1) bad result and (2) consent. In medical malpractice, medical providers often assert a defense of “bad result” to claim that just because the procedure has a bad result, the bad result is not evidence of negligence or wrong-doing. Likewise, medical providers often claim that the patient consented to the treatment knowing that it had risks. However, the consent defense does not excuse the doctor from negligently performing the procedures.
In contrast, the prosecutor described Patel as a “bad surgeon motivated by ego” who tried to restore his reputation by carrying out surgery he was not competent to perform. The prosecutor pointed to evidence introduced at trial that Patel had been banned by U.S. authorities from carrying out some of the procedures he undertook when he later moved to Australia, and that he did not inform his new employers about the restrictions. Patel has a long history of questionable practices. The trial came more than 25 years after questions were first raised about Patel’s competency and marks a milestone for many former patients who have waited years to face the man they accuse of irreparably damaging their lives.
Montes Law Group, P.C.
1121 Kinwest Parkway, Suite 100
Irving, Texas 75063