Australian police have launched an investigation into the rogue doctor, known as the Butcher of Bega, who is accused of mutilating and sexually abusing hundreds of women.
As ex-doctor Graeme Reeves, of Castle Hill, New South Wales, went into hiding Monday, The Daily Telegraph can reveal that other doctors accused of serious misconduct, including removing the wrong breast from a cancer victim, continue to practice.
Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione's office confirmed allegations made against Graeme Reeves by hundreds of women across the state was likely to be referred to the state crime command.
As many as 500 of his female patients have come forward with complaints that Reeves sexually assaulted them or mutilated their genitals during operations performed when he was illegally practicing as an obstetrician on the South Coast.
The police investigation comes 11 years after the state's medical watchdog was first told Reeves' treatment of one patient led to her death, in another case a baby died and the life of another patient was endangered.
Carolyn Dewaegeneire, a patient who broke her silence on a national TV news program last week, was admitted to Pambula Hospital on August 2002 to have a minor lesion removed from her labia.
Before she lost consciousness to a general anesthetic, she said Reeves leaned over and whispered in her ear: "I'm going to take your clitoris, too."
After the operation she discovered all her external genitalia had been cut off her body. It is alleged Reeves later boasted of removing "all the fun bits'' — and said she wouldn't need them as her husband had died.
In 1997, the Professional Standards Committee did not strike him off but banned him from being an obstetrician.
When he was struck off in 2004 by the Medical Tribunal, it was still not for malpractice but for breaching orders he not work as an obstetrician.
The Health Care Complaints Commission, which investigates complaints against doctors, revealed Monday it had the power to refer doctors to the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions but decided against it in the case of Reeves.
"An assessment was made that it was appropriate a complaint be referred to the Medical Board for possible deregistration," HCCC executive officer Kim Swan said.
Bega MP Andrew Constance has called for an independent inquiry into the complaints procedures against doctors, particularly Reeves who worked at Bega and Pambula Hospitals in 2002.
Since 2003, the HCCC has referred 104 doctors to the Medical Tribunal but only six related to medical mistreatment, an investigation by The Daily Telegraph has revealed. Most involved over-prescription or misuse of drugs or having sex with patients.
Other cases where doctors have continued to practice include a doctor jailed for possessing child pornography, another jailed for having an arsenal of unregistered firearms and one who performed botched circumcisions on babies.
Medical Error Action Group founder Lorraine Long accused the HCCC and Medical Tribunal of taking the easy option.
"It's incredibly difficult to get a decision that will get rid of the doctor," she said.
"We advise victims not to go to the Medical Board. Go to us or go to the police. They [the Medical Board] are more worried about their reputation than the patient."