Surgeon ban for heart deaths

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The Independent Online
A LEADING heart surgeon has been banned from operating after an audit of his work found more of his patients were dying than those of a colleague using the same techniques.

Andrew Forsyth had just started work at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, when his previous hospital expressed fears about the safety of his patients.

The surgeon, who was head-hunted from King's College Hospital, in London, to lead the new cardiac unit in Brighton, was immediately ordered to stop operating. He specialises in open-heart surgery using arterial grafts from the arm.

But an audit by King's found that seven per cent of his patients died following surgery compared with two per cent for a colleague who specialised in the same type of grafting technique.

A spokesman for the Brighton hospital said yesterday that Mr Forsyth was continuing to come to work and to see his outpatients but would not be operating again until the results of the investigation were known.

The data are being examined by the Society of Cardio-thoracic Surgeons and the investigation is expected to be completed within two weeks.

"The audit has just produced raw data and that needs to be properly analysed," said the spokesman.

"It might be to do with the age of Mr Forsyth's patients or the degree of illness and we need to find that out. The results are expected to take seven to 10 days and in the meantime Mr Forsyth is on planned leave."

A spokesman for King's College Hospital said: "The Royal College of Surgeons are examining our audit figures to see if there is a reason why there is an apparent difference."

The cardiac unit in Brighton was opened in June. Before that cardiac patients were referred to a number of hospitals including King's, where Mr Forsyth treated many of them.

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