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Fears about tainted NRI doc fleeing US

india Updated: Sep 21, 2006 19:17 IST

The widow of a man who died of complications allegedly after an Indian-born surgeon performed an operation on him has raised fears that he may never face justice in Queensland, Australia.

Judy Kemps, whose husband died after Dr. Jayant Patel, who fled to the US last year, performed a surgery at the Bundaberg base hospital in 2003, expressed concern on Wednesday that he might flee the US before Queensland authorities start an extradition process, according to reports.

"I'm angry. We are always told to be patient and I had been confident about him (Dr Patel) coming back, but now I don't know. They are giving him too much of a chance to make other arrangements. We have a right to know what is really going on." Kemps was quoted as saying in the Australian newspaper.

The apprehension of Kemps follows reports that Jayant Patel is trying to flee his home in Portland, Oregon, after the legal defence team representing him suddenly cut off all ties to the surgeon.

"I think he would attempt to go to India, which has no extradition treaty with Australia," Patel's former solicitor Damian Scattini told the newspaper.

Patel's work as director of surgery at Bundaberg hospital, Queensland, for two years has been linked to at least 17 deaths and dozens of injuries. The surgeon was dubbed as 'Dr Death' by the Australian media.

Patel fled Australia in March 2005, just a fortnight before it was revealed that he had deceived the Queensland Medical Board.

The surgeon has also been accused of fraud for allegedly falsifying his application to practise medicine in Australia, by removing any mention of his previous tarnished record in the US.

Patel studied medicine in India and thereafter went to the where the first complaint against him was made in 1984, when he was found not to be examining patients adequately before surgery.

Due to concerns over his work, he was restricted from carrying out certain types of operations - such as liver and pancreatic surgeries - in the US.

Later, Patel's US medical licence was terminated.

Dr Patel's case has raised concerns over the recruitment of overseas doctors in rural parts of Australia, where there is a current shortage of medical personnel.

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