A Doctor under the Microscope

Shikka S (Year 9), Chief Contributor

Charlie Teo, a once highly profiled neurosurgeon, now an alleged fraudster has been accused of being “too radical” with two operations leaving two brain surgery patients in a vegetative state in 2018-2019. While it is not fully clear what has transpired, the claims against this neurosurgeon involve past patients who are believed to have passed away due to Teo’s negligence and wrongdoings.  

Dr Teo has defended several accounts blaming him for his alleged recklessness during his surgeries. Teo claimed that he warned the family about the consequences of this surgery if not performed correctly. However, the Commission of Health Counsel questioned his decisions with Teo performing this surgery despite evidence and talk against it by other experts. Charlie Teo had supposedly told one of his patients there was a 5% chance of an outcome such as death, locked in syndrome or complete paralysis. In Teo’s hearing, the husband of one of the concerned patients testified that allegedly, Teo told the patient that the surgery was critical – if not done by Tuesday, could result in death by Friday. 

On the final day of Teo’s five-day hearing into the alleged misconduct concerning two brain surgeries, he was accused of lying under oath. Kate Richardson (a healthcare complaints commissions barrister) provided evidence in which Teo claimed that his enemies are “out to destroy him”, stating that the testifying husband of the patient had been coerced by a rival doctor. During the hearing, Teo admitted that he took out too many particles with one patient and extracted the wrong part of the frontal lobe, (which, allegedly, he had no knowledge of at the time). The commission also heard that the patients were unable to afford a third of the surgery, all the information gathered during the hearing prompted the HCCC (health care complaints commission) to reprimand Teo and his right to his practice and place it under long-term examinations, however, no final judgment has been made. 

Although there is evidence and accusations against this acclaimed surgeon, there is a long line of supporters who showed up at his hearing to support him. Charlie Teo gave these patients “hope when no other doctor could” and now these supporters are trying to give him hope. Many say that Charlie Teo didn’t have much control over what happened, a semi-regular occurrence in the medical field. The series of hearings were meant to finish a few days ago, however, Dr Teos cross examination continues to take place. The committee is expected to run hearings for two days next month to decide whether Charlie Teo will be able to operate freely in Australia for any longer. Until then all Dr Teo can do is hold onto the hope of reviving his highly distinguished career.