Interpol on the hunt for 'Dr. Death'

Friday, June 10, 2005

An Indian-trained doctor that was apparently so inept that he was nicknamed "Dr. Death" by former colleagues is now the focus of an international hunt launched by Australian police.

Dr. Jayant Patel, an Indian-born U.S. citizen, is being linked to at least 87 deaths over the course of two years. A government inquiry has recommended he be charged with murder and negligence causing harm.

Toni Hoffman, the nurse who called Dr. Patel's surgical record to attention in March, said, "We'd taken to hiding patients. We just thought, 'What on earth can we do to stop this man?'"

The Queensland state inquiry has recommended Dr. Patel be charged with the murder of James Edward Phillips, a cancer patient, who died five days after Dr. Patel removed a part of Mr. Phillips' oesophagus, despite the fact that Mr. Phillips had been refused surgery because his chances of survival were slim.

Another of Dr. Patel's patients, Marilyn Daisy, was left unattended after a leg amputation and another doctor found her nearly comatose a few days after the operation.

Compounding the murder and negligence charge are allegations that Dr. Patel falsified his Queensland work application records by neglecting to mention his disciplinary history in the United States.

Dr. Patel was hired by Queensland's Bundaberg Base Hospital in 2003.

While working in New York in 1984, complaints arose over Dr. Patel not adequately examining patients before surgery. And in 2001, Dr. Patel was forced to surrender his medical license.

Currently, Dr. Patel's whereabouts are unknown, though there's been speculation that he's returned to his former home in Portland, Oregon.

He left Australia in April shortly after the allegations against him were made.