5 Malpractice Cases That Shocked The Medical Community

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Horrific cases of medical malpractice are very rare, but even years after the event they provide a stark reminder to the industry that practitioners hold enormous responsibility in our society.

Here are five alarming cases that have resonated in the medical community and beyond.

Doctor Death

A surgeon was linked to 87 patient deaths, with 30 of those occurring at a Queensland hospital in Bundaberg, earning him the nickname 'Doctor Death'. Performing unnecessary surgical procedures, the doctor would often remove healthy organs of patients. Patient horror stories include a female patient whose wound was continually opened to expose her intestines, and another patient who was stabbed up to 50 times during an operation to drain suspected fluid from a sac near his heart.

Many patients died or were transferred to another hospital for care due to the surgery he performed.

Cocaine-addicted doctor

While under the influence, a cocaine-addicted neurosurgeon operated on patients, displaying confused judgement and making bizarre surgical decisions. Some patients who underwent procedures are unable to walk and climb the stairs anymore, and others have been left with a nearly one-third spinal impairment after the doctor operated on the wrong level of the spine.

Anaesthetic nightmare

During a five-and-a-half hour surgery to remove her eye under anaesthetic, a patient was scarily awake for two hours. Halfway through the operation, she woke up the exact moment the eye was removed and was horrified to hear the surgeon listening to disco music and giving instructions to "pull harder".

Eventually, the doctor realised she was conscious and administered more of the anaesthetic.  It is reported that the traumatised patient has since slept in a reclining chair, too afraid to lie down.

Twins die in hospital bungle

Doctors had advised a pregnant mother one of her twins was not viable due to a congenital heart defect. She made the agonising decision to abort at 32 weeks. Despite checks with ultrasound technicians, the wrong baby was terminated, and then, after the mistake was uncovered the foetus with the heart defect was also aborted.

While the hospital apologised for their bungle, they said that the existence of two foetuses could cause risk in these types of medical procedures.

The Butcher of Bega

Dubbed the 'Butcher of Bega', a Bega gynaecologist mutilated and harmed hundreds of women in the small rural town. With claims and complaints peppered throughout his career in Sydney, psychiatric reports identified him as having narcissistic personality disorder, and placed him on restricted practice. However, he moved to Bega where no one investigated his history and continued to operate negligibly removing and sewing the genitals of patients without their permission.

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