19 Aug 2010

Surgeon found guilty of professional misconduct

5:38 pm on 19 August 2010

A Wellington surgeon whose patient died after a stomach-stapling operation has lost his bid for name suppression after being found guilty of professional misconduct.

Richard Stubbs, who is based at Wakefield Hospital's specialist centre, failed to get crucial tests during his assessment of the patient in 2005 which would have shown the middle-aged man had advanced liver disease.

It was not until six months later, on the day of the operation and after the patient was already anaesthetised that Dr Stubbs was made aware of test results.

Rather than cancelling the operation to inform the patient that his risk of death following surgery had increased from 1% to 20%, Dr Stubbs decided to proceed.

The director of proceedings for the Health and Disability Commission, Aaron Martin, says the patient should have had a chance to make his own decision on whether to proceed with the operation.

"The decision underscores of informed consent, which is a cornerstone of patients' rights."

The Health Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal has censured Dr Stubbs, directed him to undergo mentoring and a clinical audit, and fined him $20,000 plus about $90,000 in costs.