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Surgeon in inquiry agrees not to practice

Health - Until his case is closed in Australia, Dr. Jayant M. Patel's license will be suspended in Oregon
Friday, July 14, 2006

Dr. Jayant M. Patel, the former Portland surgeon facing possible criminal charges in Australia, has agreed not to practice medicine in the United States, at least until the Australian investigation is completed.

The agreement, between Patel and the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners, suspends his Oregon license indefinitely and bars him from applying for a medical license in any state. It ends local proceedings against Patel in the meantime.

Patel, 56, signed the order June 30, and the Oregon medical board, which regulates the practice of medicine statewide, unanimously approved it Thursday. 

The agreement, called an interim stipulated order, says Patel's license will remain suspended until he proves "that the criminal and administrative process against him in Australia is complete," with all penalties and conditions satisfied.

Board members said that effectively ends Patel's career, protecting patients without a costly, protracted legal battle. The Australian case could take years to resolve.

"It came as a bit of a surprise, but we were happy to get it," Dr. David Grube, chairman of the Oregon medical board, said of Patel's agreement not apply for a license in any state.

Patel, who got his medical degree in his native India, was a general surgeon at Kaiser Permanente in Portland from 1989 until 2001. Kaiser restricted him from doing complex surgeries in 1998, and the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners disciplined him for negligence in 2000.

The medical board proposed last October to discipline Patel further for failing to notify Oregon regulators of his move to Australia in 2003 and other alleged violations. The board had expected him to contest that move in a hearing next week -- until the new signed order made that hearing moot.

Theoretically, Patel could apply for a license in another country. But Oregon board officials said they would use the Patel case to lobby the International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities for a global data bank that would alert employers to disciplinary actions against doctors worldwide.

After quitting Kaiser, Patel became chief of surgery at the largest hospital in Queensland, Australia. He made international headlines in March 2004 after complaints about his hiring, surgical technique and rude behavior erupted into a heavily publicized political and medical scandal, prompting the state commission's inquiry.

An Australian commission concluded in November that negligence by Patel led to the deaths of 13 patients. The panel recommended that police investigate Patel's "unacceptable" conduct for manslaughter, fraud and assault.

The Australian commission found that Patel "knowingly misled" Queensland officials by falsifying his work history and failing to disclose that he had been disciplined for negligence in Oregon -- and also repeatedly performed surgical operations at Bundaberg Base Hospital that he had been forbidden to do in Oregon.

Stephen Houze, Patel's attorney in Portland, did not return a call requesting comment Thursday.

Don Colburn: 503-294-5124;

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