Dr Ian Paterson: Medical Malpractice in the Dock

Posted by Oliver on April 30,2017

An eminent breast surgeon was recently charged and convicted in court for professional medical misconduct.

Dr Ian Paterson, 59, was convicted of carrying out unnecessary breast operations on patients. In most cases, he pressured and urged the women to have invasive, life altering and often unnecessary breast operations citing high risks, or evidence of, breast cancer.

In court, Dr Paterson’s motives were described as “obscure” but may have included desires for the private doctor (who also worked at an NHS hospital) to “earn extra money.” Dr Paterson was found guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent, in relation to cases involving nine women and one man, in addition to other charges. In the legal proceedings, the women described his behaviour and actions, and how they were subtly pressured into undergoing various surgical procedures. Jurors heard how he exaggerated or invented signs of breast cancer as the trail unfolded.

It was established that the NHS at least had had their concerns about Dr Paterson as far back as 2003 but a proper and full investigation was only carried out in recent years as his victims started coming forward. An earlier 2013 investigation had mostly cleared him. However, Dr Paterson has now been convicted, and struck off the register of the General Medical Council. It was further mentioned that in October 2017, up to 350 of his private patients will seek compensation at the High Court for his medical malpractice.

In their following press statements, both Spire Healthcare, which runs the private hospitals Dr Paterson worked at, and Heart of England NHS Trust, have expressed their regret at Dr Paterson’s actions. Whilst expressing sympathy with his former patients, both were at pains to stress that this was a one-off case of medical malpractice. No doctor or clinician ever seeks to harm their patients; quite the opposite. However, there are those very few cases where procedures, often through simple negligence, or a tiny error or fault, can go wrong. That can leave a patient worse off than they were before, or not tackle an existing condition at all. In those cases, as the October court hearing demonstrates that patients have a right to seek legal and financial compensation for a breach of the medical trust and duty of care that is owed to all patients.

Although extremely rare, it is the tragic and very rare cases of doctors such as Ian Paterson that illustrate that such a system is sadly necessary. No one wants to consider prosecuting or claiming compensation from honest, hardworking, dedicated doctors and nurses – but it is a patient’s right if the standard and nature of medical care is substandard for whatever reason.

Providing certain legal criteria are met, patients can seek compensation for medical malpractice. Talk to our specialist medical negligence lawyers at CompenstionClaims.co today to discuss this, or a potential claim, further.