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Doctor arrested in deaths of 3 patients in Australia

  • Story Highlights
  • Dr. Jayant Patel, 57, taken into custody without incident at his Oregon home
  • Australia wants him extradited in 3 patient deaths in Queensland state
  • Before he went to Australia, his Oregon medical practice restricted for negligence
  • In Australia, Patel built a reputation for sloppy care, poor hygiene
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PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) -- A physician accused of manslaughter in the deaths of three patients at a hospital in Australia was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents.

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After a government inquiry, Dr. Jayant Patel was charged with manslaughter and grievous bodily harm in Australia.

Dr. Jayant Patel, 57, was taken into custody without incident at his Portland home, the FBI said.

Australia has requested his extradition to face charges in connection with the deaths of the patients at Bundaberg Base Hospital in the Australian state of Queensland, where he was director of surgery from 2003 to 2005.

There was no immediate indication of what he has been doing in Oregon since he left Australia. Before he went to Australia, his practice of medicine in Oregon had been restricted for negligence.

Patel, born in India and trained in the U.S., was initially welcomed at the hospital in Bundaberg, a town of about 50,000 on the east coast of Australia.

However, complaints emerged about his professionalism and his standard of patient care, and at one point, some nurses at Bundaberg claimed they hid patients from him.

By the time he left, a scandal was growing over whether Australian health officials had bothered to check on his record of disciplinary action and malpractice lawsuits in the United States, going back to his residency in upstate New York in the 1980s.

While training at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, Patel failed to examine some patients before operating on them -- a failure that "clearly evidenced his moral unfitness to practice medicine," according to the New York commissioner of health at the time, Dr. David Axelrod.

However, after a three-year disciplinary probation, Patel was hired by Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Portland.

By 1998, he had been sued several times, and the Portland hospital had severely restricted his practice after reviewing 79 complaints. He left the hospital in 2001 after the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners cited him for "gross or repeated acts of negligence" and extended the restrictions on his practice statewide.

He surfaced in Australia in 2003 and began build a reputation for sloppy care and poor hygiene.

Toni Hoffman, a nurse who worked with Patel at Bundaberg, said he regularly failed to wash his hands between patients, and another nurse, Gail Aylmer, an infection control specialist at the hospital, said he once claimed "doctors' hands don't have germs."

He treated more than 1,200 patients during the two years he spent in Australia, and 87 deaths were initially linked to his care.

He was charged with three counts of manslaughter and five counts of grievous bodily harm after a government inquiry concluded in 2006 that he may have contributed directly to 13 deaths due to an "unacceptable level of care." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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