Opposition shadow health spokeswoman Ros Bates tabled the document in parliament. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Opposition shadow health spokeswoman Ros Bates tabled the document in parliament. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Complaints against surgeon date back decade

A SCATHING document presented to parliament has revealed complaints about a surgeon - who was recently stood down by Queensland Health - date back more than a decade.

Dr William Braun was outed in parliament by shadow health spokeswoman Ros Bates last month following serious allegations of malpractice and sexual misconduct.

In a seven-page letter, titled "Concerns about professional conduct of Dr William Braun", Royal Darwin Hospital's clinical superintendent raised numerous concerns with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

The letter was dated July 22, 2006 and was tabled in parliament today by Ms Bates.

One of the allegations outlined in the letter referred to Dr Braun amputating fingers of an Aboriginal man who had a history of Hansen's disease.

According to the letter, the man's fingers were initially thought to be necrotic but were later found to be viable.

However several days later when the man presented again and was taken into theatre by Dr Braun, two fingers were amputated.

"It seems apparent that Dr Braun had not adequately examined the fingers and had proceeded on a relayed story which included the understanding the fingers were necrotic and needed amputation," the complaint read.

Another patient lodged a formal complaint after he felt "violated" following a rectal examination.

"This had previously been done by another doctor and the patient found it unpleasant but acceptable. After it was repeated by Dr Braun the patient felt violated, like being raped due to a combination of Dr Braun's attitude and rough technique. He was sufficiently disturbed to enter a formal complaint."

In the letter's conclusion, it says, "It was recommended by the supervisor of surgical training after an end of term training assessment that Dr Braun should not proceed to advanced surgical training."

"In particular it is his inability to show any insight into his own behaviour which makes him a potentially dangerous medical practitioner."

"I am a highly trained and experienced bariatric surgeon with low complication rates experienced by my patients. Comprehensive records are kept of all surgical procedures and I am more than happy for my performance to be compared against any other bariatric surgeon and/or hospitals such as the Royal Brisbane and St Vincent's Private Hospital Northside who have specialists who perform the same procedures as I do," Dr Braun said.

"The reality is that surgery is often complicated and performed on patients who have multiple health issues - there is unlikely to be a surgeon in Australia who hasn't experienced patient complications of some description. The issues you have raised were dealt with almost 13 years ago and in no way related to the bariatric surgery I perform now, for which I have received extensive training in Australia and overseas and have had years of experience performing.

"If there are legitimate complaints about me, let them be tested in an open and transparent way. It is relevant that these historic matters have been raised anonymously and under parliamentary privilege rather than through any formal complaint process where proof of these allegations would have been required.

"Equally, however, take the same transparent approach to investigating my concerns around what I believe to be a related issue, which is a co-ordinated campaign of harassment against me which has been ongoing for several years. I have formally requested support from hospital administrators and other professional bodies in relation to this harassment on numerous occasions from 2016 - 2019."