Dr James Latham Peters is a drug-addicted former anaesthetist and a disgrace. He infected 55 patients with hepatitis C at an abortion clinic in Croydon, a Melbourne eastern suburb - condemning them to a life of misery.
In a story that's sounding very familiar, the Medical Practitioners Board knew of his addiction to the synthetic narcotic fentanyl but did next to nothing. They failed to supervise him nor warn his patients.
Dr Suresh Nair was a brilliant neurosurgeon with a shocking secret - an addiction to cocaine and a sex and drug lifestyle that led to two young women dying.More stories from Today Tonight
He was jailed for five years for manslaughter and supplying drugs, and a string of botched operations that ruined bodies and lives.
If that wasn't bad enough, health authorities knew of his addiction and remained mute.
Lorraine Long from the Medical Error action group believes documents were changed in the Dr Nair case.
"There are a lot of drug (addicted) or even impaired doctors allowed to operate and practice medicine all around the country," Long said.
"Anything they can cover up, they will."
In the case of Dr Nair patient after patient required the skilled hands of a surgeon. Instead they got the unsafe hands and muddled thinking of a drug addict.
We have uncovered a report that indicates there are a lot more potentially dangerous doctors treating patients.
According to an Australian Medical Journal paper, aptly titled 'Prevalence and characteristics of complaint-prone doctors' one per cent of doctors in private practice are responsible for close to twenty per cent of all complaints.
In other words, the same doctors' names keep reappearing time and time again. The study looked at complaints against Victorian doctors going back a decade. They identified 100 accident-prone doctors in the report.
The study recommended that medical authorities intervene and do whatever it takes to return these doctors to "safe medicine".
It added that this was necessary to improve patient satisfaction and public confidence in health services.The medical journal paper even profiled a typical complaint-prone doctor as:
- a surgeon or psychiatrist,
- trained in Australia,
- been in Australia for 30 years.
Both Dr Peters and Dr Nair ticked most of the boxes.
According to Long "medical negligence is a leading cause of death in Australia. You're looking at a jumbo jet of people a week."
This reporter is on Twitter at @HKapalos
OUR SOCIAL SITES
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest