BRISBANE, Australia – An American doctor charged with manslaughter in the deaths of three patients at a rural Australian hospital was ordered Monday to stand trial.
A Brisbane Magistrates Court judge ruled there was enough evidence to send Jayant Patel to trial on three counts of manslaughter and 10 other charges, including grievous bodily harm.
The charges relate to Patel's job as director of surgery between 2003 and 2005 at the state-run Bundaberg Base Hospital in Bundaberg, a sugar industry town 230 miles north of Brisbane in Queensland state. He faces life in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors say Patel showed a pattern of negligence by performing surgeries he'd been banned from undertaking in the United States, misdiagnosing patients and using sloppy surgical techniques.
Patel, who was extradited from the U.S. in July, has not entered a plea or spoken publicly about the accusations. When asked if he had anything to say, Patel told the court: "No thank you, your honor."
Magistrate Brian Hine ruled there was enough evidence to send Patel to trial to face manslaughter charges in the deaths of Gerry Kemps, James Phillips and Mervyn Morris.
Prosecutors said Kemps died of blood loss after Patel failed to stop the 77-year-old man's bleeding during an operation on his esophagus. Phillips also died after undergoing surgery on his esophagus by Patel. Prosecutors say Patel was not qualified to perform such surgeries.
Morris died after undergoing two operations performed by Patel to stop bleeding in his bowel; prosecutors said Patel unnecessarily removed part of the 76-year-old's colon and misdiagnosed the cause of the bleeding.
Prosecutors also accuse the doctor of lying on his application to the hospital in Bundaberg by neglecting to reveal he had been reprimanded by medical boards in the U.S.
In 1984, Patel was fined by New York state health officials and placed on probation for three years for failing to examine patients before surgery.
He later worked at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Portland, Oregon. In 1998 — after reviewing 79 complaints about Patel — Kaiser restricted his practice. The Oregon Board of Medical Examiners later cited him for "gross or repeated acts of negligence."
Patel, who remains free on bail, will be tried in Brisbane Supreme Court. A trial date was not immediately set.