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Patel's surgery reasonable: Defence tells court

india Updated: Jun 18, 2010 14:14 IST

An Australia court hearing the manslaughter case against Jayant Patel was on Friday told by the Indian American doctor's defence that a surgery performed by him on a patient who later died was "honest and reasonable" and gave the man a real chance of a cure.

Patel's lawyer Michael Byrne put up a strong defence in response to the Crown's case concerning 46-year old James Phillips who died after surgery for cancer of the oesophagus in 2003, the 'Herald Sun' said on Friday.

Byrne said Patel's decision to perform an oesophagectomy on Phillips was an honest and reasonable approach which offered Phillips a real chance of a cure.

He reminded the jury that Phillips died when his heart was poisoned by too much potassium and that occurred because Phillips was not dialysed in time after surgery.

Byrne said that was the responsibility of the renal physician in charge of Phillips, not Patel.

Byrne has refuted suggestions that Patel was an egomaniac.

Prosecutor Ross Martin on Thursday told jurors they might conclude Patel was a man stung by an American order banning him from doing complex surgeries and was driven by ego and ambition to prove himself.

In reply, Byrne referred to the evidence of Bundaberg Hospital's former administrator Darren Keating who described Patel as having a strong work ethic.

"Does that accord with an egomaniac driven by his own needs or wants or does it speak to you of someone who is devoted to his calling?" Byrne asked.

He said Patel also accepted a decision not to perform any more oesophagectomies without complaint or dissent.

The Crown's case is that Patel was criminally negligent in performing oesophagectomies on two men who died.

Patel has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Mervyn Morris, Gerardus Kemps and James Phillips during his time as director of surgery at the Bundaberg Base Hospital between 2003 and 2005.

He has also pleaded not guilty to the grievous bodily harm of Ian Vowles.

Patel was dubbed as 'Dr Death' by the Australian media after the case was highlighted, he was later extradited from the US to undergo trial.