Doctor back to work after botched surgery

Last updated 19:12 19/07/2013

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A doctor who botched a cosmetic surgery procedure, which resulted in oozing, inflamed facial wounds, is back to work - but with another doctor assigned to watch over his every move.

The repentant, debt-laden doctor has been allowed back to work under strict conditions for the next three years by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal. His name and workplace have been suppressed.

In 2009 he carried out a procedure on an elderly patient who was visiting from Australia.

She wanted a "mid-face" procedure to create what she hoped would be a healthier appearance.

It involved injecting dermal filler - a gel-like substance - into her cheeks to plump them up.

Departing from his usual practice, he injected her with a filler that was not approved for use in New Zealand. It was not approved in the US either, and used elsewhere as a vocal cord enhancer.

He said a drug representative had "duped" him into buying it, and before using it he checked it out online and talked to other people about it.

He used it on the woman, failing to tell her he was trying out a new product, and she returned two weeks later with inflamed, swollen cheeks.

Over the following months, the swelling and discomfort on her face became worse. One large lump on her face reached bursting point, and she had to get it drained, which left a hole by her cheekbone.

Her face became discoloured, and underneath the dressing on her face was an oozing open wound.

He then medicated her, injected another substance into the cheeks, and gave some laser therapy. The tribunal said these actions were also without clinical justification.

Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill found he had breached professional standards in August 2012.

Come November 2012, the woman had undergone nine procedures to correct the original one. Doctors could not tell her whether her condition would ever resolve.

She lost confidence, withdrawing from her family and friends.

He was repentant, and flew to Australia to "front up and apologise for all that had happened", said the disciplinary tribunal.

His financial situation had become "precarious", earning $3,000 a month from which he paid rent of $450 per week. He also had personal debts of $45,000 and a business debt of $200,000.

His remorse was "undeniable", and he had turned to health professionals for himself because of it.

The future of the doctor's work was then put in the hands of the disciplinary tribunal.

It decided he could keep practising, but would have to be supervised by another doctor, who would report back to the Medical Council. He  must attend monthly sessions with an approved psychiatrist for three years.

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He also has to, out of his own pocket, have blood tests to make sure he is  taking his own medication.

- Stuff

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