US discipline for surgeon Richard Reid

INQUIRY: Dr Richard Reid used mesh in surgery.
INQUIRY: Dr Richard Reid used mesh in surgery.

A RECENTLY-suspended former University of Newcastle gynaecology associate professor was suspended by an American state medical board in 1998 after findings of ‘‘incompetence’’ following surgery on three women, leading to at least one substantial financial settlement.

Dr Richard Reid was fined $10,000 in April 1998, suspended for three months and placed under conditions of practice for two years after the Michigan Board of Medicine found he had failed to conform to ‘‘minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing practice for the health profession’’.

But the disciplinary actions were not carried out because Dr Reid had returned to Australia in November 1996 to resume work after more than a decade as a gynaecologist and obstetrician in America.

Dr Reid was suspended by the NSW Medical Council in July, and his Edgecliff and Erina offices were closed, after complaints to regulators including the Medical Council and the Health Care Complaints Commission.

The complaints came after Dr Reid had conditions placed on his practice in 2011 following an earlier investigation. The conditions included the need for informed consent from women undergoing prolapse surgery involving mesh or tape implant devices. His appeal will be heard over two days in late October.

In 1995 the Michigan Board of Medicine received a complaint in which three women alleged they sought help from other specialists after undergoing up to eight separate surgical procedures with Dr Reid to treat genital conditions.

One of the women, who was 23 when she first saw Dr Reid in 1989, was awarded $7million in a civil case after she was left with serious complications following eight surgical procedures. Dr Reid told the Michigan Board of Medicine the surgical procedures were carried out as part of approved research.

A second patient was left with ‘‘significant surgical distortion ... of external genitalia’’ after eight procedures, some involving laser surgery, between 1989 and 1992.

A third patient received repeated surgery for a condition that independent testing found was misdiagnosed.

On Sunday, Dr Reid said he advised the NSW Medical Board of the 1998 Michigan suspension. He said he expected to be reinstated after his appeal against the NSW Medical Council suspension is heard next month.

‘‘I do not believe I can be considered a danger to the public. I think suspension is more for people who are doing very bad things, and I don’t believe I am,’’ he said.

Dr Reid said he used the ‘‘tissue fixation system’’ of prolapse repair which was developed by his friend and colleague Dr Peter Petros.

The ‘‘tissue fixation system’’ is a mesh implant device which uses mesh tapes to support pelvic organs which have sagged or bulged into the vagina and caused a prolapse.

It is the subject of acomplaint to the federal government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration.

A spokeswoman for the NSW Medical Council said a section of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law prevented it from ‘‘disclosing protected information’’ about Dr Reid, after it was asked to confirm if he had advised the NSW Medical Board of the Michigan suspension.