Orthopaedic pioneer kept thousands of bones without patient consent

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A renowned UK orthopaedic surgeon, Prof Derek McMinn, over 25 years collected and stored bones from thousands of patients, in breach of legal and ethical guidelines, reports The Independent.

According to a leaked report, Dr Derek McMinn, who pioneered the hip resurfacing technique that doctors used to resurrect Andy Murray’s tennis career, kept the bones of at least 5,224 patients he operated on, some of whom could have been children – despite having no licence to store body parts or proper consent from patients.

The case has been referred to police by the Human Tissue Authority, which was not informed until last year. An insider at the private healthcare group where McMinn worked insisted: “It’s all been kept quiet, they’ve covered it up.”

The Independent reports that the internal report for BMI Healthcare, which runs the hospital found that nurses, theatre staff and doctors at the Edgbaston Hospital, in Birmingham, where the surgeon carried out the majority of his operations, were apparently aware of what he was doing. Some hospital staff even helped put bones from patients in special pots to be preserved and collected by McMinn’s staff.

However, it is understood that the full scale of McMinn’s actions – dating back to the 1990s – was kept from some regulators until the The Independent began making inquiries, despite completion of the internal review in October last year. BMI Healthcare has also not informed any of McMinn’s patients, who were mainly private and paid £13,000 for the operation, but also included some referred by the NHS.

McMinn – who has treated politicians, sports stars and celebrities – apparently admitted to hospital bosses last year that he had been keeping patient bones at his seven-bedroom farmhouse in Worcestershire, as well as at his business premises in Birmingham, with full knowledge of his BMI Healthcare colleagues. He said he had kept the bones for his retirement, with hospital staff telling the investigation the body parts had been intended to “keep his mind active”.

West Mercia Police has confirmed that officers were investigating an alleged breach of the Human Tissue Act relating to “a private premises in Worcestershire” following a referral by the Human Tissue Authority.

Full report in The Independent

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