‘Beyond belief’: Doctor’s botched boob jobs
A former doctor who sat his heavily sedated patients up during breast surgery, asking them to decide on their implant size and seeking comment from their friends and relatives, has been struck off the medical register.
On one occasion, Leslie Blackstock contacted a woman's husband on FaceTime "to obtain his opinion whether to leave the patient's implant in place".
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) on Wednesday found him guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct in respect of cosmetic surgery, and cancelled his registration.
Due to the "serious nature" of the findings, relating to 12 separate patients, it further ordered he should not be allowed to apply for the decision to be reviewed for the next seven years.
Blackstock was previously convicted of a number of criminal offences for surgery on nine patients at an unlicensed private health facility and fined $255,000 - one of two complaints filed by the Health Care Complaints Commission to NCAT.
The HCCC states Blackstock's "specialist registration" is as a GP.
The surgeries - principally breast augmentation - were performed at Enhance Clinic in Emu Plains in western Sydney.
The tribunal relied upon expert evidence from cosmetic surgeon Dr Ron Bezic who described Blackstock's practice of sitting his patients up during surgery as "completely inappropriate" and significantly below standard.
It agreed and accepted Dr Bezic's opinion in its entirety, including that the heavily sedated women were "unable to make an informed choice", that it was impossible to assess size and symmetry while there was tissue swelling, and of the contamination risk in the operating area.
NCAT accepted evidence one patient, who was anxious and "crying hysterically", had been woken up during surgery and her mum and two friends asked to come into the operating room and to comment on her breasts.
Another patient, who recalled being conscious, stated Blackstock sat her up and asked her then boyfriend to come into the room.
"Such a practice is almost beyond belief," Dr Bezic said.
"It is completely inappropriate to solicit the opinion of either the patient or a partner whilst the procedure is being conducted."
NCAT said the act of contacting a patient's husband via FaceTime, asking whether or not to remove her implant, was "highly improper".
"We consider the practitioner's practice of permitting friends or relatives to come into the room in which the surgery was being conducted, was not only highly unorthodox, it was dangerous compromising the patient and the friends' health and safety," the judgment states.
The tribunal further heard one patient woke up and the surgeon said: "They're a bit far apart".
Another recalled him asking if she wanted to see what "he had cut off from my vagina", chuckling and laughing before adding "oh, that's a lot".
"I felt sick and humiliated," the patient said.
That woman, having breast augmentation and labiaplasty at once, was not physically examined prior to her surgery and Blackstock relied upon photos she submitted and self-measurements.
The four-member panel found the surgeon's conduct "abhorrent and grossly unprofessional".
Two of Blackstock's patients reported developing a hole in their breast after getting implants.
"We can only repeat Dr Bezic's opinion that the practitioner engaged in a gross dereliction of his duty of care to Patient J, when he washed out an infected implant on two occasions and reinserted the implant," the tribunal judgment states.
"The practitioner did not provide appropriate post-surgery care for his patients, who were discharged without proper assessment or oversight by him."
In a statement to the tribunal, Patient J said: "I cannot stand for my breasts to be touched or looked at.
"My right breast is very painful and I am waiting for it to split. My body is in a terrible state and the effect of the surgeries is profound. I would not wish this on my worst enemy."
The women also reported experiencing "extreme" or "excruciating pain" after their procedure.
NCAT had "no hesitation" in finding his conduct "constitutes serious unprofessional conduct".
It stated the surgeon, who now lives in Queensland, had been "wholly unsuccessful" in proceedings and ordered him to pay the HCCC's costs.
Originally published as 'Beyond belief': Doctor's botched boob jobs