A gynaecologist who performed invasive and unnecessary surgeries on numerous women over a period of at least six years has been found guilty of professional misconduct and banned from practising medicine for three years.
The chief executive of the health district responsible for the Manning Rural Referral hospital in Taree, New South Wales, where Emil Shawky Gayed worked, has also issued an apology to the women affected.
Seven women received inappropriate medical treatment from Gayed, and many of them did not give informed consent to major surgery, the NSW civil and administrative tribunal heard. One incident dates back to 2011 and the most recent occurred in 2016. However as the result of reporting by Guardian Australia many more women have come forward.
Gayed was first registered in 1994 and holds a speciality in obstetrics and gynaecology. The complaints relate to his time working at Manning Rural Referral hospital, from where he resigned in February 2016.
Gayed performed a hysterectomy on one woman even though she could have been offered treatment of painkillers and bed rest, the tribunal heard. The woman never consented to a hysterectomy.
“The NSW civil and administrative tribunal found Dr Gayed guilty of professional misconduct,” a Health Care Complaints Commission spokesman told Guardian Australia.
“The tribunal ordered that if Dr Gayed was registered, they would have cancelled his registration. Please note that Dr Gayed had previously surrendered his registration. It also ordered that Dr Gayed be disqualified from being registered for a period of three years from that date and that the national board record the fact that the tribunal would have cancelled Dr Gayed’s registration.”
Another woman’s foetus was put at risk when Gayed performed an ablasion procedure, which involves surgically destroying the lining of the uterus. Not only was the surgery unnecessary, but Gayed failed to conduct proper screens prior to the surgery and did not detect the pregnancy. It was not until two months after the procedure that the woman realised she was pregnant and would have also been pregnant at the time of the surgery.
Rather than immediately reporting the serious medical error to hospital management as required by NSW health protocols, Gayed paid to fly the woman to a Sydney clinic where he performed an abortion on her. It is unclear how many weeks pregnant the woman was at this time.
Neither the HCCC nor the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency was able to answer questions from Guardian Australia about when Gayed surrendered his registration. If he surrendered it at the same time as he resigned in 2016, he will be eligible to register to apply to practise medicine again next year.
“The commission is unable to comment on Dr Gayed’s employment status following his resignation from Manning hospital, but as noted above as he has surrendered his registration he is not able to work as medical practitioner,” a HCCC spokesman said.
A dozen other women and their families have come forward to allege poor treatment at the hands of Gayed since Guardian Australia broke the story last week.
The chief executive of the Hunter New England Local Health District, Michael DiRienzo, said ensuring patients received quality and safe care was the district’s priority. “I am very sorry that this has not been the case for some women treated under Dr Emil Gayed,” he said.
“Our focus is on ensuring any woman with concerns about care received at Manning hospital under Dr Gayed is provided with follow up assessment and care as quickly as possible.”
He said Gayed was suspended from all duties during the HCCC investigation and he resigned before the investigation was complete. DiRienzo encouraged anyone with further complaints to contact the HCCC.
“We are also reviewing pathology records of Dr Gayed’s patients to identify any abnormal results that may require further investigation or follow up. We will complete this process as quickly as possible and directly contact any women we think require further assessment,” he said.
The president of the Medical Error Action Group, Lorraine Long, said the case raised questions about the adequacy of penalties for doctors found guilty of misconduct. She said regulators also took too long to complete investigations and take actions once complaints were made.
“There’s a massive failure of accountability and it seems the doctor is always given the benefit of the doubt and the patients are discarded,” Long said.
“Often with serious cases I end up bringing them to the attention of police. Legislation has got to be changed so that matters like this are dealt with as criminal behaviour rather than just as medical errors.”
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