Police probe patient's death

Last updated 12:46 08/12/2012
Angie Webber
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SCARS: Angie Webber shows the scars from her botched keyhole surgery.
Jim Nicholls
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BOTCHED OP: Jim Nicholls, 80, suffered massive blood loss during an operation by Michael Parry.

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Police have launched their own investigation after a patient died from an operation at a public hospital.

The surgeon is also linked to another death and two other botched operations.

Michael Parry was stood down on full pay from Wairau Hospital in Blenheim after Jim Nicholls, 80, suffered massive blood loss during an operation on May 24.

The victim of one botched surgery believes he should never be allowed to operate again.

A coroner asked police to investigate Nicholls' death, and that of Picton woman Rachel Riddell, 31, who died of significant blood loss in January 2011 after an operation performed by Parry.

After she met police yesterday, coroner Carla na Nagara put her inquiry on hold while police pursue their own investigation.

Detective Inspector Geoff Jago said police were now making further inquiries into one of the deaths to determine if there was any "liability or culpability". Police would not confirm which death they were investigating.

As well as the police inquiry, the Medical Council is investigating other complaints against Parry that were referred to it by the Health and Disability Commissioner.

Zimbabwe-born Parry moved to New Zealand in April 2010. He said yesterday: "This is an ongoing investigation. There are patient privacy issues at stake so it's just not appropriate for me to comment at this time."

Paul Nicholls said his father went in for surgery to have a hernia and his gallbladder removed. His death during surgery shocked the family.

"Nobody wants to have one of their family . . . finish their days on an operating table like that.

"In light of prior incidents, there should be some serious consideration of what his future role as a surgeon should be."

Fairfax Media has also spoken to two other woman who suffered serious complications during surgery by Parry and had to be sent to Christchurch Hospital for follow-up care.

Their complaints to the Health and Disability Commissioner were referred to the Medical Council, which in March ordered Parry to undergo a performance assessment. They both said police have told them they are looking at their complaints as part of their investigation.

One of the women, Angie Webber, 26, counts herself "lucky to be alive" after going to Wairau Hospital in December 2010 to have her gallbladder removed.

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The solo mother from Picton said Parry told her it was straightforward keyhole surgery and she would be back at work within a week.

"The chances of anything happening were 1 in 3000. ‘You're more likely to get hit by a car' - I remember him saying that."

When she woke up after the operation, her mother was standing over her crying. "I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, what's wrong?"'

During surgery, her bile duct was damaged. Parry ended the operation, leaving her gallbladder in position.

Webber was transferred to Christchurch Hospital, where her abdomen was found to be full of bile. A specialist performed open surgery to repair the damage.

"I'm pretty angry about it. It's not a very nice thing to have to go through, and my scar is huge.

"To me, he shouldn't be doing it [surgery]."

A 36-year-old Upper Hutt woman also suffered complications during an operation to remove her gallbladder in February last year. She also needed further treatment in Christchurch.

Parry is still employed by the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, but locums have been contracted to cover his workload.

The DHB refused to comment yesterday, but in a letter to staff last month chief executive John Peters gave assurances that patient safety had "the highest priority with staff".

- Fairfax Media

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