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'Dr Death' Jayant Patel's junior says surgery unjustified

February 25, 2013 11:23 IST

A doctor mentored by Indian-origin surgeon Jayant Patel, who is facing trial for manslaughter, on Monday told an Australian court that her former boss should not have removed part of the bowel of a patient who later died.

Patel, 62, the former director of surgery at BundabergBaseHospital, has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of 75-year-old Mervyn Morris, who died in June 2003, three weeks after the major surgery.

Emma Igras, Patel's junior at the time, told his Supreme Court trial earlier this month that the surgery was not justified and should not have been done.

Patel’s lawyer Paul Smith cross-examined Igras on Monday and asked her if she had given that opinion at any of the previous times she had given evidence to a Commission of Inquiry or Patel's first trial.

Igras said no.

She told the Judge George Fryberg that she had only formed the opinion "relatively recently", after hearing there was to be a retrial but before she had been contacted about it.

Igras said she was more experienced as a surgeon now, so felt more comfortable giving an opinion.

She told the court she refused to give the defence her CV when they asked for it.

Smith said "I suggest to you that whilst you are a qualified surgeon, your experience in rural health is reasonably limited".

Igras disagreed, saying she had done 18 months' worth of rural placements as a surgeon at towns such as Bundaberg, Griffith, Broken Hill, Gladstone and Armidale.

She graduated as a doctor in 1999 and completed general surgical training after that.

Igras is currently training to be a specialist breast and endocrine surgeon.

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