Patient care met standards

21:14, May 26 2014
REPORT FINDINGS: The Health and Disability Commission’sinvestigation into surgeon Michael Parry and NMDHB staff following the death of Annette Woolley as a result of post-surgical complications found the care provided met accepted standards.

The Health and Disability Commission's investigation into the part a Wairau Hospital surgeon and staff played in the death of a Grovetown woman has concluded her care met accepted standards.

Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill began the investigation into surgeon Dr Michael Parry in August last year, following the death of Annette Woolley, 75, as a result of complications following surgery.

The investigation, which drew on expert advice from practicing colorectal surgeon Prof Bryan Parry, concluded the care provided by Michael Parry and the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board had been consistent with accepted standards.

Hill said he proposed to take no further action.

However, as part of the investigation Bryan Parry raised concerns about the "unorthodox" nature of Michael Parry's operative technique and the appropriateness of Wairau Hospital for major colonic surgery on a patient that had high post-operative risks.

Zimbabwe-born Michael Parry was at the centre of a 15-month police investigation which looked at the death of Jim Nicholls, 81, during surgery at Wairau Hospital to remove his gall bladder in May 2012. Police concluded this month that Parry would not face criminal charges. Woolley's case did not form part of the police investigation.


Woolley was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in December 2011. In January 2012, Michael Parry surgically removed the part of the colon containing the tumour and joined the ends of the colon back together. Woolley was admitted to post-operative care but her condition deteriorated, with a suspected fluid leak. A second surgery was carried out to repair the leak and she was transferred to Wellington Hospital but died the following day.

Annette Woolley's daughter Jackie Stolte complained to the commission that her mother had not received the appropriate level of care.

Hill investigated the pre-operative phase, the surgery and choice of procedure and post-operative care.

Woolley suffered from cardiac co-morbidities of a reduced blood supply to the heart and high blood pressure which increased the overall risk of fluid leak. Hill concluded she was made aware of the surgical risk.

Responding to the choice of surgical procedure, Bryan Parry said the surgery performed on Woolley was not a standard oncological operation. "Dr Parry's operative technique for colon cancer surgery is unorthodox suggesting that his experience and training are limited," Bryan Parry said. However, Hill said Michael Parry had provided reasonable explanations for his clinical decisions.

Bryan Parry concluded that although he did not favour Michael Parry's method of resection and reconstruction of the colon, he did provide an acceptable standard of care to Woolley.

Bryan Parry also queried whether it was appropriate to undertake major colonic surgery in pre-morbid patients at Wairau Hospital because it had no intensive care unit. The commissioner concluded there was no reason to conclude Michael Parry's decision to operate on Woolley at Wairau was unreasonable.

Following the case, all cases at Nelson Marlborough District Health Board involving major bowel surgery were now reviewed by a multi-disciplinary surgical team.

Woolley's daughter, who lives in Nelson, said she accepted the findings of the report.

The Marlborough Express