NSW Medical Council considers appeal over Richard Reid case, raising questions about links to Tissue Fixation System

QUESTIONS: The suspension and reinstatement of Dr Richard Reid has put the spotlight on the surgical treatment methods he supported.
QUESTIONS: The suspension and reinstatement of Dr Richard Reid has put the spotlight on the surgical treatment methods he supported.

THE suspension and reinstatement of former Newcastle University gynaecologist Dr Richard Reid has triggered broader inquiries into the surgical treatment methods he supported, and raised questions about the NSW medical complaints process.

The NSW Medical Council is considering an appeal against a NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision to reinstate Dr Reid after a complaint about a tribunal member’s history with doctors who endorsed the allegedly ‘‘novel’’ methods practised by Dr Reid.

The tribunal has advised it is ‘‘making inquiries’’ after a complaint about whether tribunal member and gynaecologist Dr Laurie Boshell’s executive role with the Australian Association of Ambulatory Vaginal and Incontinence Surgeons, founded by Dr Peter Petros to advance his allegedly ‘‘novel’’ methods for surgical treatment of prolapse in women, was disclosed to the tribunal.

Dr Reid supported and used Dr Petros’s Tissue Fixation System (TFS) of surgical mesh tape to repair prolapse complications in women after childbirth.

Association documents show Dr Boshell was an executive and faculty member of Dr Petros’s association between 2002 and 2008, and was thanked for his ‘‘invaluable advice’’ in 2004 in a book written by Dr Petros to describe his theories.

Dr Boshell declined to comment when contacted.

The tribunal advised the Newcastle Herald its code of conduct required members to disclose ‘‘any conflict of interest or a perception of bias or conflict of interest’’.

Statements by Dr Petros and other members of the association, which later changed its name to the International Society for Pelvi Perinology, described Dr Reid as a ‘‘global thought leader’’ and surgeon of ‘‘exceptional skill’’.

The doctors’ statements led the tribunal to conclude that Dr Reid enjoyed the ‘‘glowing support’’ of his colleagues and was a ‘‘world expert in his field’’, but it noted the absence of material to challenge the doctors’ assessments.

The tribunal rejected the Medical Council’s strong opposition to Dr Reid’s reinstatement, and its description of the Tissue Fixation System as ‘‘novel’’. But the tribunal decision, made public on December 19, did not record that TFS was deregistered by the federal government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration on November 5, a week after the tribunal hearing where Dr Reid was reinstated.

On December 22 the Health Care Complaints Commission confirmed it was formally investigating a complaint against Dr Petros relating to disclosures about his financial interest in the Tissue Fixation System, which he patented in 2003.

Dr Petros did not respond to a request for comment.

The Health Care Complaints Commission is also investigating three complaints against Dr Reid, including a complaint by Sydney University Professor of Obstetrics Hans Dietz.

Dr Dietz lodged the complaint after seeing eight former patients of Dr Reid who had prolapse surgery using the TFS mesh tape.

Dr Dietz said the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s decision on Dr Reid was confusing and difficult to understand.

University of Western Sydney Professor of Obstetrics Andrew Korda said his positive comments about Dr Reid, which were made in 2011 and appeared in the tribunal decision, were ‘‘taken out of context and before TFS became a significant problem’’.