Abortion doctor charged with endangering life of 49 women at abortion clinic

As former abortion clinic anaesthetist James Latham Peters was granted bail after a 15-month investigation, women caught up in the Croydon Day Surgery health scandal spoke of their relief that criminal charges had been laid.

“Suzanne”, one of the 54 women battling to regain their health, welcomed the charges but said she had lost faith in the health system.

“The system has let me and my family down, and the Victorian public,” she said.

“My faith in the parts of the medical profession is gone, it’s just out the door.”

Dr Peters, 61, of Hawthorn, was bailed on a $200,000 surety after facing court charged with three offences against each of his alleged victims.

Abortion clinic doctor charged with infecting patients with hepatitis C
Anaesthesiologist James Latham Peters charged with endangering life of 49 women at clinic in Melbourne
Friday 27 May 2011

An Australian doctor has been charged with endangering the lives of patients after allegedly infecting nearly 50 women with hepatitis C at an abortion clinic.

James Latham Peters, 61, who worked as an anesthesiologist at the Melbourne clinic, was charged with 54 counts of conduct endangering life, negligently causing serious injury and recklessly causing serious injury. The most serious charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Peters was released on bail of A$250,000 (£162,000) after appearing briefly at Melbourne magistrates court on Friday. He was not required to enter pleas to the charges, which relate to 49 patients at the clinic, who health officials say contracted the same strain of hepatitis C as Peters between 2008 and 2009.

Hepatitis C, which is spread through the blood, can cause serious liver problems, including cirrhosis and cancer. Police have not released details on how they believe the disease was transmitted, but Bram Alexander, a spokesman for the Victoria state department of health, said officials had closely investigated all the infection control procedures at the clinic and did not find any problems.

“That’s precisely why, back in early last year, we referred these matters to the police for further investigation because our investigation could find no plausible reason as to why the infection took place,” Alexander said.
Peters had his registration suspended in February 2010. Under his bail conditions, Peters must not work in any medical or health-related field and must not contact staff at a number of medical centres where he previously worked, including the abortion clinic. He was also required to surrender his passport.

Health officials tested more than 4,000 of Peters’ patients during their investigation, and found 49 who were infected with a strain of the virus genetically linked to his.

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