Sur­geon who op­er­ated on women un­nec­es­sar­ily faced years of com­plaints

The Guardian Australia - - Front Page - Melissa Davey

An ob­ste­tri­cian in­ves­ti­gated for per­form­ing un­nec­es­sary and ir­re­versible surg­eries on women’s re­pro­duc­tive or­gans has been the sub­ject of com­plaints to a pa­tient ad­vo­cacy group for at least a decade.

Guardian Australia re­vealed last week that ob­ste­tri­cian and gy­nae­col­o­gist Emil Shawky Gayed is al­leged to have engaged in un­pro­fes­sional con­duct while work­ing at the Man­ning Ru­ral Re­fer­ral hos­pi­tal in Ta­ree, New South Wales.

He re­signed in 2016 af­ter the Health Care Com­plaints Com­mis­sion (HCCC) started in­ves­ti­gat­ing his con­duct. The HCCC al­leges Gayed car­ried out pro­ce­dures such as hys­terec­tomy and fal­lop­ian tube re­moval in women who could have been treated with painkillers and bed rest, or less in­va­sive pro­ce­dures.

But the pres­i­dent of the Med­i­cal Er­ror Ac­tion Group, Lor­raine Long, told Guardian Australia on Wed­nes­day that her or­gan­i­sa­tion had re­ceived com­plaints about Gayed for the past 10 years.

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“He should have been struck off years ago,” Long said. “He has quite a his­tory. I know of pa­tients who had to go to John Hunter hos­pi­tal in New­cas­tle for re­pair af­ter be­ing treated by Gayed.”

Gayed’s case was heard be­fore the NSW civil and ad­min­is­tra­tive tri­bunal last week. The tri­bunal heard he failed to de­tect a pa­tient was preg­nant be­fore per­form­ing surgery on her that could have af­fected her foe­tus, and when he dis­cov­ered her preg­nancy af­ter the surgery he paid for her to fly to Syd­ney to have an abor­tion.

It was also al­leged that he un­nec­es­sar­ily re­moved an­other woman’s healthy right ovary af­ter she mis­car­ried, and per­formed a hys­terec­tomy on an­other woman with­out her con­sent.

Long said com­plaints about the same gy­nae­col­o­gists re­peat­edly caus­ing women harm seemed to fol­low a pat­tern.

“They have this at­ti­tude – and I’ve seen it in a lot of com­plaints in­volv­ing gy­nae­col­o­gists – of dis­lik­ing women,” she said. “So they treat women in this way al­most like a pun­ish­ment.”

Gayed did not re­turn Guardian Australia’s calls.

Mon­ica Bolton was one of al­most a dozen women to con­tact Guardian Australia about Gayed af­ter his case was re­ported.

She said that af­ter her usual ob­ste­tri­cian went on hol­i­days in

2006, Gayed took over man­age­ment of her preg­nancy. She was di­ag­nosed with pla­centa acc­reta, a se­ri­ous con­di­tion that oc­curs when the pla­centa grows too deeply into the uterus and does not de­tach from it dur­ing child­birth. Bolton had the con­di­tion with her pre­vi­ous two preg­nan­cies.

She was sup­posed to have a cae­sarean to avoid com­pli­ca­tions from the con­di­tion, but she gave birth pre­ma­turely. Af­ter giv­ing birth, she thought she would be put un­der gen­eral anaes­thetic so the pla­centa could be re­moved, as was the case with her pre­vi­ous preg­nan­cies.

“But Gayed said, ‘I’ll re­move it man­u­ally,’ ” Bolton said. “It was ex­tremely trau­ma­tis­ing ly­ing on a theatre ta­ble know­ing he had his hand up me. He ended up tear­ing my uter­ine wall.”

She said she passed blood clots for seven days and re­mained in hos­pi­tal. When her usual ob­ste­tri­cian re­turned from leave, Bolton said he was shocked and im­me­di­ately or­dered an ul­tra­sound, blood trans­fu­sion and surgery to re­pair the dam­age.

“It was eas­ier to try to bury what had hap­pened to me rather than go­ing over and over it,” she said. “I didn’t have the fight in me to take ac­tion.”

An­other woman told Guardian Australia that af­ter she gave birth to her son in July 2002 she re­quired stitches to re­pair tears on her vagina. Gayed was the doc­tor who per­formed the pro­ce­dure.

About three months later, once she had healed, she re­alised she had ex­treme dif­fi­culty dur­ing in­ter­course and could not have sex.

“I made an ap­point­ment at the com­mu­nity health cen­tre to see a fe­male doc­tor,” she said. “She ex­am­ined my vagina af­ter I com­plained about the dif­fi­culty I had with in­ter­course. She told me that my vagina had been stitched to­gether. She said she had seen bet­ter stitching by first year med­i­cal stu­dents.”

The woman said she was only 20 at the time, and had to go to the John Hunter hos­pi­tal to have her vagina re­paired. She said she still strug­gles with in­ti­macy and has lost trust in ob­ste­tri­cians.

The pres­i­dent of the Royal Aus­tralian and New Zealand Col­lege of Ob­ste­tri­cians and Gy­nae­col­o­gists, Prof Steve Rob­son, de­scribed the com­plaints against Gayed as “shock­ing”.

“Peo­ple need to speak up about their med­i­cal col­leagues who they have con­cerns about,” Rob­son said. “They have an obli­ga­tion to manda­to­rily re­port. I’m un­be­liev­ably dis­tressed and frus­trated if this hasn’t hap­pened.”

He said most spe­cial­ists were car­ing pro­fes­sion­als who did the right thing, and he en­cour­aged women and their fam­ily to com­plain if they felt they re­ceived poor treat­ment.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the HCCC found seven women re­ceived in­ap­pro­pri­ate med­i­cal treat­ment from Gayed, and many did not give in­formed con­sent to ma­jor surgery. The com­plaints spanned sev­eral years.

The tri­bunal will de­liver its de­ci­sion at a later date.

Do you know more? Con­tact melissa.davey@the­guardian.com

The Med­i­cal Er­ror Ac­tion Group says it has re­ceived com­plaints about the sur­geon Emil Gayed for the past 10 years. Pho­to­graph: Alamy

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