Patel had the patient’s best interests in mind: Defense says

The manslaughter trial against the Bundaberg based surgeon Dr. Jayant Patel that has been going on for 13 weeks now, is in its final phases now. In Dr. Patel’s defense barrister, Michael Byrne QC completed his final address to the jury in the Queensland Supreme Court.

Dr. Patel, 60, has pleaded not guilty to charges of unlawfully killing three of his patients - Mervyn Morris, James Phillips and Gerry Kemps -- and causing grievous bodily harm to a fourth, Ian Vowles during his tenure as the Director of Surgery between 2003 and 2005 at a Bundaberg based hospital.

Mr. Kemps died two days after Dr. Patel performed a surgery to remove his food pipe of oesophagus for throat cancer. Earlier the court heard the complications like bleeding and kidney damage that occurred during and just after the operation that led to the eventual death of the patient.

Mr. Byrne said Dr. Patel is a “concerned doctor” and was trying to “preserve life, not to damage it.” Prosecutors have alleged that the operation itself should have been deferred or a second opinion in the matter was necessary. Mr. Byrne earlier clarified that Mr. Kemps’s cancer was large and bleeding and operation was the only approach possible. The need for the operation was discussed with other surgeons as well as the patient and his wife. The decision to go ahead with the operation was jointly made and an informed decision on part of the patient and his spouse.

Mr. Byrne continued to say that Dr. Patel might have been wrong in the given situation but that did not make him criminally negligent and it was not a “grave moral guilt” that would warrant his conviction for manslaughter in the case. He urged the jury to ignore the “adverse media coverage” and “calmly and carefully” examine the evidence and to find his client not guilty.

Justice John Byrne is expected to begin summing up the case for the jury. Thereafter the jury will be sent away to decide on verdicts for the four charges. The trial continues.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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