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Surgeon goes on trial in Australia

AN American doctor charged with manslaughter over the deaths of three patients at an Australian hospital repeatedly botched operations and performed surgeries he was not capable of, a court heard yesterday.

In his opening statement in the pre-trial hearing of Jayant Patel, prosecutor Ross Martin also said the doctor lied on his application to Bundaberg Base Hospital by neglecting to reveal he had been reprimanded by medical boards in the United States.

Patel, 58, faces more than a dozen charges, including manslaughter, causing grievous bodily harm and fraud relating to his job as director of surgery between 2003 and 2005 at the state-run hospital in Bundaberg, 370 kilometers north of Brisbane. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Patel has not entered a plea or spoken publicly about the accusations.

Martin said Patel showed a pattern of negligence by performing surgeries he'd been banned from undertaking in the US, misdiagnosing patients and using sloppy surgical techniques.

In one case, Martin said, Patel operated on a patient's throat but left him bleeding internally for several hours while he attended to another patient. The man eventually died of blood loss.

In 2004 Patel removed a man's healthy salivary gland instead of thyroid cancer. Another doctor later noticed the scar from Patel's surgery was not near the cancerous mass and sent the patient back to surgery.

Much of yesterday's hearing was dedicated to allegations by the prosecution that Patel lied by failing to tell Australian authorities that he'd been forced to resign from his position in the US state of Oregon because of medical negligence.


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