15 Jan 2019
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has found the behaviour of Dr Robert John Cooke, an orthopaedic surgeon, amounted to unsatisfactory professional conduct in relation to his treatment of a patient in late 2005 and early 2006.
In late 2005 Dr Cooke performed a hip resurfacing procedure on a patient. Five days later, the patient suffered a fracture of the femoral neck and Dr Cooke performed a total hip arthroplasty.
The patient had a complicated post operative course, requiring re-admission. She developed a wound haematoma, ongoing ooze from the wound, a large deep collection on CT scan and a deep wound infection.
The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) referred Dr Cooke to a professional conduct review panel because of his treatment of the patient in respect of the infection, following the total hip arthroplasty. The Board alleged that Dr Cooke’s treatment of the patient with respect to the infection amounted to unsatisfactory professional conduct.
Dr Cooke elected to have the matter heard by QCAT, which heard the case on three dates in 2014. QCAT handed down its finding in July 2015.
The Board alleged that Dr Cooke failed to order certain blood tests (erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C reactive protein) before commencing the patient on antibiotics, commencing antibiotics without confirming the presence of an infection and failed to treat the site of the infection with a wound washout.
QCAT found that Dr Cooke’s behaviour fell far short of the standards of medical practice expected by the public and the profession, and that his behaviour amounted to unsatisfactory professional conduct.
The Tribunal cautioned Dr Cooke and ordered that he pay the Board’s costs of the proceedings.
The reasons for the tribunal’s decision are available on AustLII and the Tribunal’s decision on sanction and costs is available on the Supreme Court Library Queensland.