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New claim of errors against surgeon

Date

Phillip Thomson

Dr Richard Hocking.

Dr Richard Hocking. Photo: capitalortho.com.au

A Canberra orthopaedic surgeon is facing fresh allegations about mistakes made on a patient.

Next month, Richard Hocking will argue against having further restrictions put on him by the ACT Medical Board.

At the hearing of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal he will argue he was not given a fair opportunity to respond to the latest allegations made by the board.

As The Canberra Times reported in August, to protect the public Dr Hocking had been stopped from doing certain surgeries unsupervised - including trauma surgery involving major pelvic injuries - and told by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency to do at least a year's worth of retraining.

The latest set of allegations, now being debated in the tribunal, was sparked by a Sydney hip and knee orthopaedic specialist, Michael Solomon.

In September, Dr Solomon outlined his concerns to the ACT Medical Board about an alleged incorrect surgery performed by Dr Hocking.

After hearing Dr Solomon's concerns and Dr Hocking's defence, the medical board claimed Dr Hocking posed a ''serious risk''.

Days after the hearing, the board wrote to Dr Hocking saying: ''While you expressed empathy for the patient, you failed to acknowledge any deficit in your treatment.

''Furthermore, the history of adverse outcomes and the possibility these outcomes may be continuing in a wider scope of procedures further heightened the board's concerns.''

The board tried to immediately and severely increase its restrictions on the surgeon. The ACT Supreme Court has decided to lift these conditions while Dr Hocking challenges the medical board's decision in the tribunal.

The board's proposed new restrictions on Dr Hocking would ban him from doing any surgeries on adults or children without another surgeon in the theatre to supervise him until he retrains.

They also would stop him doing arthroscopies on children, and would make him retrain for 40 hours a week for six months, a large increase in his weekly retraining commitment.

According to documents filed to the tribunal, Dr Hocking plans to argue he was not granted procedural fairness or given a fair chance to respond to the allegations.

He also said the new conditions would significantly damage his earning capacity and ability to practise.

Because the evidence tendered to the tribunal is yet to be tested in a hearing, Dr Hocking successfully argued for documents specifying the allegations and mistakes made on the patient to be withheld from the public when told of The Canberra Times' application to view them.

Dr Hocking's defence argued he had already seen fewer referrals to his practice since The Canberra Times article in August.

Dr Hocking has headed Capital Orthopaedics, based in Phillip, since 2008.

He has a fellowship at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and holds a bachelor of surgery from the University of NSW.

Dr Hocking's legal representation did not comment when contacted by The Canberra Times.

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