Expert testimony at Patel manslaughter trial

By Candy Lashkari

In the trial of Dr Jayant Patel an expert surgeon who testified last week was cross examined by the defence lawyers. Patel is currently on trial in the Supreme Court in Brisbane for the manslaughter of three patients and causing grievous bodily harm to a fourth.

The patients were Mervyn Morris, 75, James Edward Phillips, 46, and Geradus Wihelmus Gosewinus Kemps, 77, andIan Rodney Vowles, 62. These cases occurred between March 2003 and April 2005 when Patel was working as the director of surgery at Bundaberg hospital in southern Queensland.

He has pleaded not guilty to the unlawful killing charges and the trial is currently in progress. Last week colorectal surgical expert Dr Brian Collopy told the court that one of Patel’s former patients Mr Mervyn Morris aged 75, would have lived on for an indefinitely longer time had Patel not removed part of his bowel in 2003.

The defence barrister Michael Byrne, QC, and Dr Brian Collopy spend a long time arguing about the interpretation of the medicals charts of Meryvn John Morris on Wednesday. Dr Brian Collopy said in his evidence, “This elderly man died because he was rushed into an unnecessary bowel operation ... and his already sick heart and liver ... couldn't cope with this.

The crown prosecutors are alleging that Dr Patel performed unnecessary surgery on Mr Morris when he was in a weak condition and could not withstand additional strain. While the defence is trying to establish that the expert Dr Collopy, had little else besides the medical reports to base his opinion on, and that it was not a well informed opinion.

Mr Byrne asked Dr Collopy about a Glasgow Coma Scale test performed on Mr Morris, which is a neurological scale that records the conscious state of a person, and said that the results were in the expected range. Dr Collopy replied that the scale was generally used on accident victims with head injuries and not on sick old men with no injury.

Dr Collopy also said that the hospital staff must have had growing concern about the patient’s deteriorating condition to have conducted the test. Other medical reports of the ECG and condition of Mr Morris’ other organs were also discussed.

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