Surgeon guilty of misconduct

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 March, 2007, 12:00am

A surgeon with 45 years' experience was found guilty of professional misconduct yesterday for failing to remove a tumour from the rectum of a cancer patient.

But heart specialist Pannalal Nandi was acquitted by the Medical Council of another charge of failing to inform the patient - journalist Ray Heath, who has since died - about the tumour.

Heath lodged a malpractice complaint after Dr Nandi operated to remove a 6cm tumour from his rectum but failed to detect a second tumour, which was later found and removed by another surgeon.

The council, which heard that Dr Nandi manually searched for another tumour but did not employ commonly used equipment that might have detected it, issued him with a warning letter.

It took into account Dr Nandi's extensive contribution to medicine and the community and accepted a defence contention that failing to remove the second tumour at that time would not have shortened Heath's life expectancy. 'We accept the defendant has put in an effort to feel for the second tumour,' council chairwoman Felice Lieh Mak said.

But she said he omitted using a sigmoscope, a device for viewing the lower colon, which was nowadays commonly used and which would have improved the likelihood of finding the second tumour.

The council accepted the statement of expert witnesses that a sigmoscope should have been used.

It rejected a defence claim that, even if the second tumour was left behind, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, which Heath was undergoing, could still have removed it.

Dropping the charge of failing to inform the patient, the council said Dr Nandi, listed as a cardio-thoracic surgery specialist, could not have done so as he did not know about it.

Heath, a former business editor of the Post, died of cancer in 2004 at the age of 59.