Doctors face disciplinary action over deaths of 19 patients

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The Independent Online

Up to 16 doctors at two Sydney hospitals face disciplinary action over a string of errors blamed for the deaths of at least 19 patients and a mastectomy in which the wrong breast was removed.

Up to 16 doctors at two Sydney hospitals face disciplinary action over a string of errors blamed for the deaths of at least 19 patients and a mastectomy in which the wrong breast was removed.

An interim report by a special commission of inquiry was produced after an earlier investigation by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) - the state government's health watchdog - concluded that the incidents were a result of "systemic" failures at Camden and Campbelltown hospitals. The head of the (HCCC) has since been dismissed.

The commission of inquiry, headed by Bret Walker, QC, said that not one of 70 complaints that it examined had been properly investigated by the HCCC. The doctors face possible prosecution and deregistration.

The cases include that of a patient who died of abdominal poisoning five hours after a routine gall bladder operation. Her condition had not been properly diagnosed or treated.Another doctor discharged two patients: one of whom died before reaching home; the other patient died less than 24 hours later.

Bob Carr, the premier of New South Wales, who has faced a mounting pressure over the deaths, said the report was a landmark step "in fixing up the abuses that have been exposed".

Mr Walker has yet to investigate a further 56 allegations.

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