Investigation continues in intentional hepatitis C infections at Melbourne abortion clinic

Police quiz anaesthetist over abortion clinic hepatitis C infections
Megan Levy and Rafael Epstein
November 19, 2010

Detectives have questioned a Hawthorn man at the centre of allegations that patients at a Melbourne abortion clinic were deliberately infected with hepatitis C.

Anaesthetist James Latham Peters, 61, was interviewed at St Kilda Road police station this morning after dozens of women treated at Croydon Day Surgery contracted the virus between 2008 and 2009.

He had arranged to speak to detectives this morning, attended with his lawyer and spoke with investigators for about an hour. He was released, “pending summons”, a Victoria Police spokeswoman said.

Next week, police expect to speak to others involved in the Croydon clinic.

Dr Peters’ Hawthorn home was one of five Melbourne properties raided last month by detectives from Taskforce Clays, which was set up to investigate the allegations.

Dr Peters, who has a history of pethidine addiction, was suspended by the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria in February.

Forty-one patients at the abortion clinic are suspected of contracting the same strain of hepatitis C as Dr Peters.

“Taskforce Clays detectives are interviewing a 61-year-old Hawthorn man in relation to allegations patients at a Croydon health facility were infected with hepatitis C,” a Victoria Police spokeswoman said.

“He is currently assisting police with their enquiries.

“Investigators are continuing to analyse a significant amount of documentation that was seized last month.”

The Department of Health has tested more than 3000 patients treated between 2006 and 2009 at the Croydon Day Surgery – now called Marie Stopes Maroondah – and is still tracing a further 300 women.

Staff are also trying to contact another 1066 female and male patients at three other clinics.

They include 900 patients who attended Fertility Control in East Melbourne between January 2008 and November 2009, 150 from St Albans Endoscopy who were treated between February and September 2008, and 16 who attended the Western Day Surgery in Sunshine in March 2008.

No charges have been laid over the infections.

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