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HomeNewsCharlie Teo says medical hearing against him is ‘soul-destroying’

Charlie Teo says medical hearing against him is ‘soul-destroying’

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Controversial neurosurgeon Charlie Teo has said the medical hearing against him is “soul-destroying” and the loved ones of patients who died have been “hoodwinked” by other doctors.

The five-day Health Care Complaints Commission hearing is investigating complaints of alleged misconduct in relation to two terminal patients Dr Teo operated on in 2018-2019 who fell into a vegetative state or coma and did not wake up.

Speaking to media outside the hearing on Wednesday morning, the 65-year-old said he acted in both patients’ best interests, thinking he was going to help them but couldn’t.

“It’s just terrible. It’s terrible. It’s soul-destroying,” he said.

“I’ve devoted my life to my patients. I mean, you don’t survive 35 years in the game doing the world’s most difficult brain tumours if you don’t care for your patients.”

“Really – they would have destroyed me earlier than now, if I had been this terrible person I am made out to be.”

Speaking about the family members who gave evidence and both their lost wives after his operation, he said he “loved them” and still does.

“They were lovely men who called me Charlie and we had a good relationship,” he said.

“And I can’t specifically say who, but when one of them wrote his complaint – I’ve seen that complaint – there was a complaint about the system. And then the doctor, he complained and said, ‘Oh, no, no, no, you need to complain about the doctor doing futile surgery’. So I truly believe he didn’t really want to do that.”

He said the whole situation was “just tragic” and the patients’ families had been “coerced” and “hoodwinked”.

But he said to this day he did not reject a single surgery, adding it was important to look at the big picture – that neurosurgery is “very dangerous and complications happen”.

“I’m not denying that I have had some bad results,” he said.

“But they’re trying to paint me to be some sort of money hungry, reckless, non-compassionate doctor. I just love my work.”

He asked why he would not even charge one of the patients if he was in it for the money.

“Why would I do a high risk operation that potentially could hurt my reputation when I’m not even getting paid for it,” he asked.

Referring to the “God-like” reputation some patients give him, Dr Teo said he feels a huge responsibility – one he has to accept.

Asked why other surgeons had a negative opinion of his work, he said they were the ones who should be asked that, but noted they were all “pretty anonymous”.

But he did elaborating on one of his theories, which was that other surgeons felt the need to get out of their comfort zone and learn new techniques in order to match his level of skill, because they did not like that he was trying “something different” and getting good results.

On the subject of the medical fraternity potentially being too cautious in regards to some of the cancers he takes on, he said: “I think that answer is two-fold. Firstly, you don‘t want someone to take on a typical case (that I do), if they don’t have the skills to do it,” he said.

“And secondly, you don‘t want someone to reject a case if they do have the skills. It’s a catch 22.”

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