Doctors who kill and harm their patients: The Australian experience

Publication Type:
Chapter
Citation:
Bioethics, Medicine and the Criminal Law Volume II: Medicine, Crime and Society, 2010, pp. 248 - 264
Issue Date:
2010-01-01
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© Cambridge University Press 2013. The charging and conviction of Australian doctors for the deaths of or serious harm to their patients is extremely rare. On 29 June 2010, Dr Jayant Patel was convicted in the Brisbane Supreme Court on three counts of manslaughter in relation to the deaths of patients under his care during his time as director of surgery at Bundaberg Base Hospital from 2003 to 2005. ‘Dr Death’, as he has become known in Australia's media, was also convicted on one count of causing grievous bodily harm. Dr Patel faces a number of further charges including fraud and several counts of grievous bodily harm arising from his treatment of patients. Dr Patel's conviction, however, makes him the first doctor in Australia since Dr William Valentine in 1843 to be found liable for the manslaughter of a patient. He is also very likely the first doctor in Australian history to be convicted of causing a patient grievous bodily harm. On 21 April 2011, Dr Patel's appeal against his convictions and sentence was dismissed by the Queensland Court of Appeal.
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