Doctor put financial gain ahead of patient safety

Stock image.
Stock image.

A CARDIOLOGIST who believed he was entitled to financial gain above patient safety has been de-registered and banned from medical practice for five years.

Former Australian Medical Association president Keith Victor Woollard, performed a heart procedure for which he was unqualified on former Rockingham journalist John Brown, leading to his death.

Woollard was found guilty of professional misconduct by the State Administrative Tribunal and sentenced on October 30.

The tribunal found that “Woollard was motivated to misconduct himself in the manner referred to in the findings by the desire for financial gain which, by reason of the Joint Venture in which he was a participant at was not limited to fees for service”.

Woollard was a shareholder in a company that received fees for parts used in coronary angioplasty procedures at the Mount Hospital at the time.

The ban is the final outcome after a history of botched medical procedures in which Woollard fronted the tribunal previously in 2012 and 2013 for similar negligence but on different patients.

In 2005 Woollard made false claims about his training and experience to the Medical Advisory Committee so he could perform coronary angioplasty procedures at the Mount Hospital unsupervised.

The false claims led to Woollard doing a substandard and bungled angioplasty procedure on Mr Brown who had complex multi-vessel coronary artery disease.

Mr Brown died of a coronary artery tear due to the choice of wire used in the operation.

The tribunal found Woollard’s training in such procedures was incomplete and experience inadequate and said his decision to do the procedure – let alone the way he did it – showed a brazen disregard for Mr Brown’s safety.

He also failed to ensure enough anticoagulation during the operation, failed to inform Mr Brown of the risks associated due to his condition or advise him of the safer option – a coronary artery bypass grafting procedure.

In a horrifyingly similar scenario, Woollard also performed a coronary angioplasty on another patient where a heart bypass would have been the safer option and failed to use an anticoagulant.

He then blamed a nurse for his failure to use the anticoagulant during the operation.

The tribunal found his conduct extremely serious.

“The seriousness of misconduct may be illustrated by its outcome – the consequences of the fraudulent and dishonest conduct in this case were particularly grave,” the tribunal reported.

“If Dr Woollard had been honest with Dr Crawford and the Medical Advisory Committee in October 2005 when he sought accreditation to perform angioplasty without supervision, it is unlikely that he would have been given temporary accreditation to perform angioplasty at the Mount Hospital.

“It is therefore unlikely that Dr Woollard would have performed angioplasty on Mr Brown without supervision, or at all.

“If the misrepresentations had been corrected after Mr Brown’s death, rather than being left concealed at the time, it is likely that disciplinary action would have been taken in relation to the misrepresentations, which would have been likely to have led to protective orders that would have prevented the subsequent misconduct the subject of Woollard 2012 and Woollard 2013, which conduct caused all three of the affected patients to suffer serious harm.”

He showed no remorse or insight into his actions.

It was only after facing de-registration that Woollard showed some remorse over his actions.

On the day Mr Brown died, Woollard wrote a letter to the Medical Advisory Board seeking to continue performing angioplasty without supervision.