‘Dr. Death’ probably not a good doctor

Unless you’re a physician who moonlights in a heavy metal band, the nickname “Dr. Death” should tell you that you’re doing a poor job of practicing medicine. Dr. Jayant Patel, a surgeon in the Australian state of Queensland, is not in a heavy metal band:

A doctor turned off a woman’s life support ventilator in an Australian hospital because the director of surgery, dubbed "Dr Death," wanted her bed to operate on another patient, an inquiry has heard. The government-sanctioned inquiry in the Australian state of Queensland is examining the deaths of 87 patients treated by Indian-trained Dr Jayant Patel. [Reuters/Yahoo!]

26 thoughts on “‘Dr. Death’ probably not a good doctor

  1. Never trust an Indian doctor? Are you kidding? Some of the best doctors in the world are Indians. The current head of the American Medical Association is an Indian. The amount of patients who come into India for special surgeries is astounding. India is one of the only places where a special lazer resurfacing procedure to repair hips can happen. Who are the people who stream into the country to get these treatements? Westerners as well as other South Asians. I myself only trust my dentist in Shimla with my teeth, he has some of the newest technologies that are too expensive for the normal American: he only performs tooth-colored fillings, and uses a lazer as local anaesthetic and tooth whitener. All of this in a clean, beautiful office right off of the mall at a fraction of the cost my American dentist (who is also a South Asian). Sure, I have to buy the plane ticket to see him but I can tell you that I save a few hundred (if not thousand) dollars in just a few years. The real question begs to be asked: how this doctor could be allowed to kill so many paitents without being stopped? How many people dying does it take? If the allegations are true, then this man is inbalanced. This entire sequence of events seems to be completely flabbergasting. Jayant Patel had sterling reviews from both the New York office where he worked prior to Kaiser in Portland and then again from Portland when he moved to Australia. How else would have Queensland hired him? Some grave irregularity in his superiors has caused this relapse of negligance. Yes, Dr. Patel is fully culpabable but if I were his OR nurse, I know I would’ve stopped him from pulling that plug. Or at least have informed another doctor of what this man is up to. In one case, Dr. Patel’s amputee patient developed gangrene when her stitches had not been removed after 6 weeks. The next line stated that she was a patient suffering from gangrene. Is it not true that an amputee suffering from diabetes will develop gangrene in their extremeties if the diabetes is left untreated? Is this not a responsibility of the nurses? To check the patients? To inform the doctor that gangrene is devloping? Gangrene, after all, does not occur in one day. It seems that the people with whom Dr. Patel worked with, his superiors who let him go and then recommended him and the people who did not adequately check his background when hiring him are quite culpable as well. Dr. Patel obviously worked for many years. This “problem” has been a continuing tale of negligence and death. He should have been stopped. It took the death of 87 patients for this mad man to be routed out? Where is the medical profession headed? In a time of high malpractice insurance, a law suit happy culture and the glowing reviews that medical schools and medical professions in and out of India are accumulating, the acts of one man have caused damage to the medical profession as a whole and to doctors of South Asian origin. Just ask Sanjeev Bery.

  2. The Australian media seem to be focussing more on how he was allowed to get away with so much and less on his “overseas” education. The problem here is more about how they are unable to attract good doctors to rural areas where facilities and salaries are low.

  3. “The Australian media seem to be focussing more on how he was allowed to get away with so much and less on his “overseas” education”

    Good. If the facts support the allegations, it would prove he was incompetent. It does not reflect on his overseas education.

    To Sanjeev Bery: If you are wary of a physician just because he is Indian, then there can be no further logical discussion. An a priori belief of that strength would not change even in the face of facts.

    If you are wary of a physician because he is educated overseas, just go to any University affiliated hospital’s website on the East Coast/West Coast/most of the Midwest. A lot of physicians on staff have had their basic medical education in other countries, including India. Looking at academic affiliations is of course a poor substitute for the chance to judge someone’s skill and knowledge on a one-to-one basis. The alternative would be to take my word for it…:-) Nationality and overseas education do not negatively predict the calibre of any physician.

    Disclaimer: I am both…:-)

  4. For the record, Dr. Patel was NOT Indian trained. He did his basic education in India and then trained as a SURGEON IN US, which is what he did in Australia – Surgery. So, he may or may not have been a bad doctor, but please don’t generalize on the bais of a false assumption!!

  5. Dr. Jayant Patel obviously is going through some sort of psychological problem. For him to have successfully completed & received his medical degree cannot be ignored. Why he mistreated & misdiagnosed several patients will only be understood, once a psychiatrist has examinded him. As for Sanjeev Bery, ‘Sanjeev’ sounds like an Indian name. I find it very disturbing for anyone, especially an Indian to say what you said. Maybe you should spend time figuring why you said such a statement!

  6. Why is Manpriya using a “z” in laser. Is this some kind of British word transformation?

    I thought acronyms like LASER were immune from such distortions as are other acronyms such as RADAR or SCUBA. Perhaps the Brits would like to change them to RayDAR or SCooBA?

  7. I think this butcher should be tracked down and punished. Apparently, he made millions of dollars by murdering people and is getting away with it. I am pretty sure he would have fled to his native country. A reward should be set for his capture and once it is out in the media, he will be caught soon. I think he would have fled to his hometown in Gujarat, India. His relatives should also be questioned to locate him.

  8. It would be good if the Queensland press would stop referring to Dr Jayant Patel as “Indian-Trained” , after all he did do his surgical training in the USA. I also find it astounding that he continued to work in Bubdaberg Hospital for so long despite all his alleged ‘blotched surgery’ and mismanagement.Were all his collegues asleep at the time? How could they have ‘hidden patients’ so that ‘Patel could not get his hands on them’,how could they have shared in the neglect of patients who were ‘forgotten in their beds after surgery’? Instead of sounding so smug about it in the press , they should be hanging their heads in shame for they did nothing when they saw (as they claim)such dreadful deeds being done !

    PS Sanjeev, mate,you need to see a psychologist -you seem to be suffering from some kind of inferiority complex.

  9. First of all let me say that if the doctor is guilty-he is guilty regardless of his country of birth, origin or doctor training.

    Second of all focussing on him being an Indian is wrong. This makes me very angry.

    I am an Australian-Indian. Some Australian qualified and trained Engineers designed a consumer product. The Australian courts determined that this was responsible for some Australian houses which burnt down.

    These Australian Engineers left the company much before the court decision and got senior positions elsewhere.

    Those left in the company were good migrant engineers and workers who lost their jobs when the court decision was made many years later which resulted in the company closing down.

    No mention of much of this incident and the court decision in the Australian media.

    The focus on Indians or Indian training is racist behaviour.

  10. http://abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200506/s1393576.htm

    Important things to consider.

    1. Some of the deaths of people who were very old.

    2. The findings of professional medical bodies.

    For the abc news website,

    Meanwhile the Australasian College of Surgeons says it is premature to comment about a report into Dr Patel’s performance.

    A team of medical experts has been auditing surgical outcomes at the Bundaberg hospital.

    Newspaper reports suggest the draft study shows the medical error rate of Dr Patel may be within acceptable limits.

    College president Russell Stitz says the full analysis is yet to be done.

    “We understand that it’s imminent but it’s not yet out and to make statements before the full analysis is obviously inappropriate,” Dr Stitz said.

    “So we’re all looking forward to the full report, which is by committee chairman Peter Woodruff, who’s a vascular surgeon and a previous vice-president of the College of Surgeons.”

  11. The full story about Dr. Patel’s crimes and the crimes of the Australian health system managers who are Australians.


    The biggest concern I have is that Australians all have this money-making bossy attitude.

    Why can’t they roll up their sleeves and get hands dirty doing operations. Why import rogue doctors while they themselves wan’t senior management positions?

    They are equally or more guilty in this case.

  12. Dr Jayant Patel was indeed trained as a surgeon in India, hence all the comments that he was “Indian-trained” by Queensland (and other) press.

    The below is an excerpt of a timeline of Dr Patel’s career:

    _ March 11, 1973, bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery degree, M.P. Shah Medical College, Jamnagar.

    _ March 20, 1976, master of surgery degree, M.P. Shah Medical College.

    _ Aug. 8, 1976, certified as resident surgeon, Irwin Group of Hospitals, Jamnagar.

    Completing these surgery degrees in India does indeed indicate at least some of his basic surgeon training was carried out before relocating to the US.

    But, bad doctors can be of any nationality. They said that he was Indian trained, but didn’t say that was the reason why he was such a poor surgeon.

    ‘The biggest concern I have is that Australians all have this money-making bossy attitude.’ Comments like the above are just as generalised and offensive as any of the others. As an “Indian-Australian” at least part of you must fall into that category. Does the Indian half make you exempt?

    This is not the only suspect doctor working in the world, and it will not be the last. It has received considerable media attention worldwide due to the fact that Dr Patel fleed Australia.

    I think if you are going to make blase comments, you should at least research the subject so you know what you are talking about.

  13. There is this thing called “admission-rate bias.” Some surgeons take only highest-risked patients that most other surgeons have already written off as being not good cadidates for surgery. Who knows if this doctor is one of those? And if he is, who would care? Australia is an extremely racist country. A generation ago, its government sponsored the practice of stealing Aboriginal children off from their parents, putting them into WHITE Australian families, with the sole purpose of killing off all ties, cultural traits, traditions, of Aboriginal people. People talk about 87 POSSIBLE cases of deaths, but few would care to say how many surgeries he actually did? What if he did many thousands, so the RATE of deaths may be not that high, and even if it is high, could it be because he took only patients that had been left to die anyway by other surgeons who had refused to treat them? Too many people jump too fast into conclusion only because he is Indian. They even scream he was India-trained, while in fact he was not. He was trained in the US, and if anyone knows anything about the US medical system, he must have been excellent at least at one point when he was chosen to be the Chief Resident of Surgery by the US hospital where he was trained.

  14. WASHINGTON: An Indian-American physician who has been given the headline-grabbing nickname “Dr Death” by the Australian media will not go to testify before a commission of inquiry Down Under because “he has been held guilty without trial in a racist atmosphere” his American attorney has said.

    The attorney, Stephen Houze, told TNN in an interview that Dr Jayant Patel is under no legal compulsion to depose before a Queensland overnment inquiry commission that is hearing charges against him.

    “There is a racist overtone to the whole media coverage and he is being held guilty of murder without trial. He is not going to testify or depose under these circumstances,” Houze said over phone from Portland, Oregon.

    Houze confirmed that Dr Patel is in the United States and had been in touch with him and that he is not a fugitive.

    But he declined interview requests at this time on grounds of privacy for his client. Dr Patel has not publicly rebutted the charges against him.

    Houze said the investigation had just begun, but there were no charges so far, much less any question of extradition.

    In any event, the US and Australia have no extradition treaty between them so Dr Patel is a free man.

    Describing the coverage in the Australian media as “hysterical” and “over the top,” Houze pointed out the discrepancies between the charges against Dr Patel, including allegations that he literally butchered his patients, and the endorsements and awards he received from his peers and colleagues, including authorities in Australia.

    The Australian commission of inquiry has heard blood-curdling testimony about Dr Patel’s treatment of patients, including unhygienic and unprofessional conduct, wrong diagnosis, reckless and botched surgeries leading to death.

    While a head nurse where Dr Patel worked recorded all this and brought it to the hospitalÂ’s notice, the hospital gave him an employee of the year award and was on the point of giving him a new four-year contract after his two-year term had expired when she went to a state legislator with her version of events.

    It was subsequently discovered that Dr Patel had been restricted from practicing medicine in the New York and Oregon in the US before he took the job with the Queensland Hospital.

    But even here, his spotty record in the late 1990s which led to him being blacklisted is prefaced by a distinguished physician award in 1995 and two best teacher awards in 1991 and 1992.

    Even after he left the U.S in 2001 after disciplinary action against him, he took with him at least six commendations from doctors at the Kaiser Permanente, the health care company where he worked, according to one account.

    “It gives me great pleasure to recommend Jayant Patel,” one Kaiser doctor wrote. Another said Dr. Patel had “above average knowledge of surgery” and “very high moral standards.”

    The case has caused some trepidation among Indian-American physicians, of whom there are about 50,000 in the United States.


  15. If he wasn’t Indian trained, then why on earth was he the resident surgeon of Irwin Group of Hospitals in Jamnagar, India, before he moved to the US?!?!?!?!

  16. Yolanda,

    Have you forgotten when Australian university trained people ran a company making dangerous medicines in Australia. The name of the company was Pan pharmaceuticals which was closed.

    The complaints from some was that medicine powders were thrown on the floor and mixed with wrong types in medicines.

    Think about it again and remember keep saying to yourself that those managers were Australian educated and trained. Also make the fact well known to the rest of the world if you wish to repeat about Indian training creating bad people.


    We are all guilty as human beings. The main reason is greed for money.

  17. Dr Jayant Patel (Dr Death) is a real butcher, he is a murderer!!! He should serve life in prison, or serve the death penalty. Dr Patel, being a professional of such nature (surgeon) and highly qualified, it was his intention to kill and take the lives of those patients he treated. Given the circumstances in his cases, he deliberatly wanted to kill his patients and he did so indirectly by using his own profession as a scapegoet.

    Dr Jayant Patel, is fortunate to be gifted to become a doctor and be highly recognised in his working days, but instead of taking the opportunity to treat patients and cure them and do a service to people and the community (which not many people have the qualifications/capacity of doing), he intentionally misuses his power and takes the lives of most of his treated patients, whenever he finds the opportunity to do so.

  18. It’s interesting to see how vested interests influence the opinions of people who basically see the same “facts”

    The truth is probably somewhere between astounding incompetence by the good doctor along with the medical profession (both in the US and Australia) and that he was at one time in possession of an “above average knowledge of surgery”

    Who knows.

    Personally, I do think Fatal Patel was at one time good, turned bad (perhaps due to a love-lost…) and then coasted on his credentials to the destiny he finds himself in today. BTW – ALL doctors make mistakes and many get people killed. 87 seems excessive though even for a swashbuckling surgeon like Indiana Patel.

    A couple of observations from personal experience:

    Australia is an astoundingly racist country. When they opened up the telecomm industry to competition, The TV ads run by Australia Telecomm (the entrenched incumbent) denouncing Optus (the upstart competitor) was nothing less than outright Xenophobic provocation. (Optus was backed by a US company after all…ironically it was MCI)

    Influential professions, such as medicine, breed hidebound, monolithic organizations which “circle the wagons” when ANY of its members is under attack. They may sacrifice that individual but the organizations will certainly not take accountability for much of anything. In this case, it seems to be applicable to both US and Australian sanctioning bodies both of which are digging up all kinds of documentation about the goodness of their past actions. I’m surprised the MP Shah Medical College has not thrown its own hat of inculpability in the ring. In effect medical organizations on at least two continents are colluding without intent. Same results as explicit collusion however. And people say that large organizations are inefficient…

    As far as Dr. Giant Poodle is concerned, he ran and hid for a reason. If some kind of adverse selection was taking place with the good doctor then that should be EASILY borne out in a simple categorization and (non-medical) analysis of his medical records (most doctors I know have more patient records than they know what to do with)

    He did himself a disservice and fanned the flames of his own demise by pulling an OJ (i.e., running), then posing as his own brother, hiding out then hiring a lawyer in the US (where he is NOT currently being charged with a crime) to defend charges from a country with which we have no extradition agreement. (maybe he should be hiring a media consultant, or OJ maybe…)

    The reality is that he’s already been tried in the media. The salacious details of this case will outclass the plain, boring, methodical details that due process will require.

    So stick a fork in him, cuz he’s done.

  19. It matters not where he was trained….

    He quiet clearly lied about his background, particularly the disciplinary actions against him in the US, when applying for the possition in Australia. There also seems to be clear evidence of him altering patient records to cover his errors.

    I see no was of excusing his dishonesty and fraudulent behavior, whatever the underlying level of surgical competence may have been.

  20. I personally don’t see his training as affecting the way he used his skills “Indian_Australian” — I didn’t mean that he was a bad doctor because he was trained in India – just the opposite in fact.

    Where he was trained does not affect how he handles himself as a doctor – bad doctors can come from anywhere.

  21. Why is everyone so surprised (and hence debating) that the world is racist?

    On Feb 22 2002 the Seattle Times printed a headline about the Olympics that read “American Outshines Kwan”


    If racism exists in an ultra-liberal city like Seattle in its public media you better believe that just about everywhere else has hordes of latent KKKers waiting in the wings for a person of color to be served up in the media.

    It’s not important WHERE Patel was trained or what level of quality that locale produces.

    It only matters to America that he was FOREIGN and that means bad doctors DO come from India.

    Let’s debate about THAT rather than his actual training.

  22. In response to ‘Just to be fair’ where he/she said “Australia is an extremely racist country. A generation ago, its government sponsored the practice of stealing Aboriginal children…” Your ignorant and impertinent comment only proves one thing….that u must be an american. Heres a clue, comment on things that you know about….so don’t comment on anything….