Tribunal reprimands surgeon for unsatisfactory professional conduct

26 Feb 2016

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) found that Dr Christopher Joseph Bourke engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) found that Dr Christopher Joseph Bourke, a specialist general surgeon and paediatric surgeon, engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct. Dr Bourke was reprimanded by QCAT for failing to appropriately clinically manage a patient prior to surgery in July 2008.

The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) commenced disciplinary proceedings against Dr Bourke in March 2014 and the matter was heard and determined by QCAT in October 2015.

The disciplinary proceedings related to the death of a child, then aged 4 years, who died in July 2008, due to post-operative sepsis after the excision of a lesion from his neck performed by Dr Bourke. An autopsy report stated that the cause of death was sepsis due to or as a consequence of streptococcus pyogenes soft tissue infection of the neck.

Dr Bourke admitted to not taking a pre-operative swab of the neck legion to exclude the more serious infection caused by streptococcus pyogenes (as opposed to his pre-operative diagnosis of the cause of infection as mycobacterium avium intracellere). He also admitted that he should have administered antibiotics prior to surgery to prevent post-operative infection. Expert medical opinion indicated that these steps should have been taken.

An agreement between the Board and Dr Bourke was reached regarding an appropriate sanction, which was ultimately adopted by QCAT.

QCAT found that Dr Bourke had behaved in a way that constitutes unsatisfactory professional conduct under the Health Practitioners (Disciplinary Proceedings) Act 1999.

QCAT reprimanded Dr Bourke, and ordered that the reprimand is to be noted on the register for a period of 12 months.

The reasons for the Tribunal’s decision are on the Austlii website.

Page reviewed 26/02/2016