Jailed Indian-American surgeon convicted of killing 3 patients appeals in Australia

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Surgeon jailed for killing 3 appeals in Australia

ADELAIDE, Australia — An American surgeon sentenced earlier this month to seven years in prison for killing three patients and permanently harming another is appealing his conviction, a report said Thursday.

Indian-born U.S. citizen Jayant Patel, 60, was convicted of three counts of manslaughter and one of causing grievous bodily harm while he was a surgeon at a hospital in Queensland state from 2003 and 2005.

His lawyers filed the appeal in the Queensland Court of Appeal late Thursday afternoon, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. They could not be reached for comment.

The sentence came more than 25 years after questions were first raised in the United States about Patel’s competency. Patel left Australia in 2005, just as questions began to be raised about his record here.

He was arrested by the FBI at his home in Portland, Oregon in 2008 and extradited for trial.

At the trial, Patel was accused of being driven by a “toxic ego” to perform surgeries that U.S. authorities had banned him from undertaking, of misdiagnosing patients and employing sloppy and antiquated techniques.

Patel faced a potential maximum of life in prison for the manslaughter of Mervyn John Morris, James Edward Phillips and Gerry Kemps, and the grievous bodily harm of Ian Rodney Vowles.

Patel was sentenced to seven years in prison for each count of manslaughter and three years for the grievous bodily harm charge, though Byrne ruled that all would be served concurrently. Patel will be eligible for parole after 3½ years.

A government inquiry prompted by media reports that dubbed Patel “Dr. Death” found that Patel may have contributed directly to 13 deaths at Bundaberg, though by the time of his trial this had been boiled down to three counts of manslaughter and one of grievous bodily harm.

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