Wanted in Australia, ‘Dr Death’ arrested in US

March 12th, 2008 - 10:01 pm ICT by admin  


New York, March 12 (IANS) India-born surgeon Jayant M. Patel, whom Australia wants extradited from the US to face charges of manslaughter and negligence, has been arrested from his home in Portland, Oregon, a move welcomed Down Under. The US citizen, dubbed Dr Death in Australia, spent a night in a cell in the city where he once practised before his licence was taken away, The Oregonian newspaper said.

He was produced in court Tuesday and his plea for bail will be heard Thursday. He will face an extradition hearing April 10.

The Australian government wants to try Patel, 57, in connection with three deaths arising from his work as chief of surgery at Queensland’s Bundaberg Hospital.

He faces three life sentences if convicted on the charges, which also include allegations of grievous bodily harm, negligence and fraud.

According to a memo filed by the US attorney with the court, Patel “schemed to hide his history of professional misconduct from officials at an Australian hospital”, and “once on staff, bungled surgeries with tragic results”.

Patel, who worked in the Queensland hospital since 2003, fled to the US in April 2005 after an inquiry linked him to several botched operations.

In Australia when the news of Patel’s arrest broke, Queensland Prime Minister Anna Bligh said in the state parliament that the credit goes to the people in the patient support group, who came forward and publicly made their claims.

Patel, who originally belongs to Gujarat where he studied to become a surgeon, immigrated to the US in 1977.

He trained further in surgery at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York in the 1980s.

He first began to raise alarm bells in 1984 at a hospital in Buffalo City where health officials cited Patel for failing to examine patients before surgery.

After finishing his three years’ disciplinary probation, he managed to find a job with Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Portland. By 1998, he had been sued several times and Kaiser severely restricted his practice after reviewing scores of complaints. He left the hospital in 2001.

His wife, Kishoree, is a physician at Kaiser.

His family and friends want him to fight extradition, claiming he will not get a fair trial in Australia because of bad publicity there.

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