‘Butcher of Benoni’ — plastic surgeon’s HPCSA hearing resumes

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Pic of Dr Gordon courtesy of IOL

Pic of Dr Gordon courtesy of IOL

The Health Professions Council of SA hearing into Dr Luke Gordon, a plastic surgeon from Benoni who is facing 13 charges relating to unprofessional conduct emanating from cases in which he was allegedly negligent or incompetent, resumed after a six-month postponement that was granted despite a finding that this ‘reeked’ of delaying tactics.

Gordon, dubbed by the media as the ‘Butcher of Benoni’ was in 2014 ordered by the HPCSA to stop practising immediately, when he refused to attend a 2014 earlier hearing. Some of the allegations date back to 2000. Dr Gordon has since quit practising.

Graphic pictures of the wounds suffered by Eizabeth Edwards were shown at a HPCSA hearing committee in Durban. According to a report in The Star, she recounted how with each passing week after her breast reduction, liposuction and tummy-tuck surgery at the hands of Gordon in July 2006, her body went from bad to worse.

The report says Gordon, who owned Metamorphis Clinic, is facing 13 charges relating to unprofessional conduct emanating from various cases in which he was allegedly negligent or incompetent. The allegations are that Gordon failed to meet the standard of care that could reasonably be expected from a plastic and reconstruction surgeon. The lawyer representing the 13 complainants, Thabang Baloyi, went through each graphic picture of Edwards’s wounds on an overhead projector.

Edwards had initially consulted Gordon on 30 May, 2006 after searching on Google as she had wished to have her 36DD breasts reduced. Edwards testified how her surgery was initially scheduled 28 for June, 2006 but moved to about 10am on 3 July (same year) as the anaesthetist Gordon usually worked with was unavailable. Pre-op, she said she recollected asking to see the anaesthetist to tell him that she was asthmatic, but had only seen Gordon’s nursing assistant before being wheeled into theatre.

She recalled how she had been given premedication before surgery, and woke up at Life the Glynnwodd Hospital in searing pain. “I woke up at about 6pm on the day of the surgery and I called the nursing staff and asked for medicine, but no one responded. At about 11pm, a sister came to me and gave me two containers with two pills inside and told me I should have received the other two earlier,” she stated.

When her husband picked her up from hospital, Edwards testified she was in severe pain. Edwards and her husband began taking pictures of her scars two days after her surgery and continued for weeks thereafter. Edwards said she was devastated at how the surgery had turned out, the report says.

During cross-examination, Gordon’s lawyer, Shadrich Mothibe, argued Edwards had signed a consent form to allow the surgery and the form had explicit paragraphs citing possible risk associated with the surgeries.

The hearing continues.

 

It was reported in The Star in July, 2015 that Gordon’s application to postpone an inquiry into his professional conduct may “reek of delay tactics”, but it was granted. This was the finding by the HPCSA, the committee presiding over Gordon’s formal inquiry, when it postponed the matter to October (2015).

The HPCSA said it wanted to allow his lawyer time to consult a plastic surgery expert and prepare his defence.

The report said this is despite Baloyi having presented heads of argument against the postponement. Baloyi had argued that Gordon had known the charges he faced since March, which had given him sufficient time to prepare.

In a preliminary inquiry last year, an ad hoc HPCSA committee found evidence Gordon had physically and mentally abused his patients and injured them through unsafe and unprofessional practices.

The HPCSA had been criticised in the past for allowing Gordon to continue practising despite the complaints against him, some of which dated from 2000. In the past few years, Gordon has paid more than R4.5m to clients for botched operations, and last year the HPCSA suspended him from operating.

The report said his lawyer, Shadrich Mothibe said there was one expert who had compiled a report on the matter, and a counter-view was needed to balance the issues.  “You (committee) are looking at the effects on the applicant’s (Gordon) basic life and livelihood and also seeking redress of the complainants…I must concede that the complainants seek closure. They see an injustice. Unfortunately in this case, the issues involved are seriously loaded,” he said.

 

Just four days before the HPCSA hauled him in for a hearing into the quality of his work, Gordon indicated that he did not want to practise as a doctor anymore, The Star reported in April, 2014. He also indicated he did not intend to attend the hearing. “I do not intend to appear and hereby request the registrar of the Health Professional (sic) Council of South Africa to remove me as a medical practitioner. I have no intention to continue to practise as medical practitioner,” he said in his affidavit to the HPCSA.

The report says his sudden decision to stop practising and not attend the proceedings was a slap in the face for one of his ex-patients.  Myrna Bothma, who was left grossly disfigured after elective breast and abdominal surgery in January 2011, had hoped to face Gordon at the hearing. “He is a coward. Basically, all he is saying is ‘I don’t want to face you, deal with it’. It’s easy for him to walk away. I don’t know why he now does not want to be a doctor anymore, and not at the time we were complaining,” said Bothma.

 

Four people took the HPCSA to the North Gauteng High Court over alleged malpractice by Gordon, a News24 report said.

They claimed in a September 2013 application that the HPCSA allowed him to continue practising despite a string of complaints. Gordon previously received fines and suspended sentences for medical malpractice from the council.

The report says one of the complainants lost a leg when Gordon performed a calf implant operation and two others had elective breast reduction surgery which left them disfigured.

The four argued in court papers that if stronger action had been taken against Gordon, at least one of them could have been spared from disfigurement and pain.

Full report in The Star
Full report in The star
Full report in The Star
Full News24 report


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