Plastic surgeon reprimanded
Dr Gregory McCarten.
A senior plastic surgeon at The Canberra Hospital has been reprimanded for inappropriately performing or purporting to perform procedures on three patients.
Dr Gregory Maxwell McCarten was found guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct by the Professional Standards Committee of the NSW Medical Council in August.
He has been ordered to enter a "mentoring relationship'' with a senior surgeon and submit to an audit of his clinical records.
Dr McCarten is head of The Canberra Hospital's reconstructive hand surgery unit and also works in NSW.
He was criticised by the committee over his management of three patients with finger or hand injuries.
The committee found that Dr McCarten had inappropriately purported to perform or have performed procedures on patients, including some "local flap'' procedures.
He was also found to have inappropriately waited two days before removing sutures from an infected wound on a patient's hand.
"The committee finds that Dr McCarten's conduct involves a series of acts or omissions which demonstrate a consistent lack of judgment, skill and care in his management of the three patients referred to in the complaint,'' the committee said in its judgment.
"In the committee's view, Dr McCarten's conduct clearly amounts to unsatisfactory professional conduct.''
The committee said it frequently had to consult Dr McCarten's billing records to clarify precisely what he had done because this was not apparent from his clinical records.
"The discrepancies between Dr McCarten's billing items and his clinical notes are not simply one-off incidents and indicate extremely careless practice on the part of Dr McCarten. The discrepancies made the committee's task more difficult and cannot be simply trivialised as billing 'mistakes'.
"The committee is also concerned about a serious lack of judgment and care on Dr McCarten's part in not once, but repeatedly, undertaking procedures which were clearly inappropriate, and placed the patients at risk of further harm.''
The committee ordered Dr McCarten to meet with a mentor for an initial period of 12 months. It also ordered Dr McCarten to submit to an audit of his medical records.
The incidents occurred in 2008 and 2009 when Dr McCarten was working as a surgeon in Albury and Canberra and providing care under the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme.
The ACT Health Directorate said it had no concerns about Dr McCarten's practice in the territory.
"The issues relating to Dr McCarten as reported in the Professional Standards Committee report relate to his work in NSW. The issues relate to compensable patient management and do not relate to Dr McCarten's clinical competence,'' a directorate spokeswoman said.
"There are no concerns relating to Dr McCarten's practice in the ACT and the Health Directorate is fully confident about Dr McCarten's practice in Canberra.
''The Health Directorate is advised that Dr McCarten has complied, and continues to comply, with all aspects of the conditions placed on his registration.''
Dr McCarten declined to comment for this article.