Star Neurosurgeon Admits He "Took out the Wrong Bit" of a Woman's Brain During Surgery
He claims enemies in the medical world want to destroy him.
A star Australian neurosurgeon admitted he "took out the wrong bit" of a woman's brain during surgery but claims enemies in the medical world want to destroy him, ABC.net.au reported this week. Charlie Teo, 65, made the admission on the fifth day of a disciplinary hearing. The country's health care complaints commission (DHCC) is looking into his conduct with two patients. Three neurosurgeons testified last week that the operation on the woman was "excessive," the news outlet reported. Teo explained to the commission how he managed to take out the wrong part of the woman's brain and alleged that certain others in the profession want to see his downfall. Read on to find out more, including what happened to her and what action awaits Teo if the panel finds he committed misconduct.
"Ignorance," Not Negligence, He Claims
Teo was operating on the woman to remove a brain tumor. During the hearing, he was asked why he decided to take out a chunk of the patient's frontal lobe during the procedure. "I took out too much. I took out the wrong bit of the frontal lobe," Teo said, according to the news outlet. "I actually didn't know at the time. I'm learning from this case. It wasn't negligence. Maybe some ignorance on my behalf, but certainly not negligence." "I did the wrong thing. Was that my intention? Absolutely not. I didn't try and hurt her." The woman was left in a coma and died about a month later.
Complianant "Hoodwinked" and "Coerced," Doctor Says
When asked what he would have done differently, Teo said, "pull my punches. Try to leave a little more tumor behind. Maybe a different approach," the Guardian reported. "That's the $6 million question. 'What did you do wrong? What can you learn from it?'" he added. Currently, Teo is not allowed to operate in Australia without written consent. The DHCC was investigating whether that restriction should be dropped or extended. During the hearing, one of the lawyers asked Teo about public comments he'd made that one of the complainants had been "hoodwinked" and "coerced" into filing a complaint against him.
"Enemies" Influenced One Complainant, Doctor Claims
Teo claimed the man's original complaint was about the difficulty in transporting his comatose wife from Sydney to Western Australia, where she lived, not about his professional performance, the news outlet reported. "[The complainant] has been hoodwinked into believing my intentions weren't honorable … and that he should file a complaint about me," said Teo at the hearing. "So I stand by those comments to the media. I think he has been suggested to by multiple doctors over this period of time." "We had a good relationship and that seems to have soured. I made the assumption that he had been 'got to' by my enemies," he added.
Another Women Left in Coma After Surgery
Last week, that man said his wife, like the other woman, was left in a "vegetative state" for about six months after Teo operated on a stage 4 tumor at her brain stem. She died in March 2019. The man said he and his wife proceeded with the operation because Teo told them there was a "5% risk" of death. Teo said he more likely told them there was a "100%" risk of "some degree of paralysis" from the operation, the news outlet reported.
Former Patients Showed Up in Support
Former patients and supporters of Teo showed up at the hearing. Some held signs. Many said Teo had saved their life. The hearing is ongoing. After a recent session, Teo seemed emotional, wiping away a tear as he addressed the assembled media. "What can I say? It's uh, it's overwhelming. It's crazy," he said. "Anyway, I'm here for them. That's why I'm here. It's not for me."