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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June, 2005, 04:31 GMT 05:31 UK
Australia hunts suspect surgeon
Jayant Patel
Jayant Patel had been cited for gross negligence by two US states
A surgeon linked to the deaths of at least 87 patients should face charges of murder and negligence, an Australian government inquiry has ordered.

Jayant Patel, dubbed "Dr Death" by local media, should also be tried for making false representations, it found.

Mr Patel fled Australia in April and his current whereabouts are unknown.

Allegations against him first surfaced when colleagues reported that a large number of surgeries performed by him had led to serious complications.

Mr Patel was educated in India and worked for 20 years in New York and Oregon, but had his medical licence withdrawn in both states.

We'd taken to hiding patients. We just thought 'What on earth can we do to stop this man'
Toni Hoffmann, nurse

He then moved to Australia in 2003, where he falsified his application and obtained a job as director of surgery at the rural Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland.

Some former colleagues at the hospital told investigators they would sometimes hide patients from Mr Patel to save their lives.

On one occasion, the doctor ordered a life support machine switched off to free a bed for another patient.

Queensland state authorities have announced police would seek his extradition, but some believe he might have moved to India, which has no extradition treaty with Australia.

The case has raised concerns over recruitment of overseas doctors in rural parts of Australia, where there is a shortage of medical personnel.

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