Interventional cardiology

Cardiologist’s career “effectively over” after five year ban for misconduct

High-profile cardiologist Dr Keith Woollard has been banned from practice for five years, effectively bringing his medical career to an end.

Dr Woollard, a former AMA president and a specialist cardiologist in WA for over 35 years, was found guilty of professional misconduct in relation to the death of a patient, John Brown, who had occlusion of the left main coronary artery during angioplasty at Mount Hospital in Perth in 2005.

The State Administrative Tribunal in Western Australia ordered that Dr Woollard be disqualified from applying for re-registration for five years after finding that he lacked the training and experience needed to perform angioplasties without supervision, and had made false representations in order to gain the accreditation to do so.

The tribunal found that Dr Woollard had failed to use a high enough dose of heparin before the procedure in the patient who was at high risk of occlusion due to a complex lesion in the left coronary artery. In addition he failed to suggest coronary artery bypass grafting as a safer alternative to angioplasty, due to Mr Brown’s heightened risk of occlusion.

The “consequences of the fraudulent and dishonest conduct in this case were particularly grave” the Medical Board of Australia said in submissions to the tribunal.

In considering Dr Woollard’s fitness to practice, the tribunal concluded that his conduct in attempting to perform angioplasty on Mr Brown, knowing the complexity of the anatomy of the lesions in that case, “demonstrates that Dr Woollard cannot be trusted not to overreach himself in the practise of general cardiology and other types of procedural cardiology, at the risk of patient safety.”

“The fact that Dr Woollard has conducted himself in this way on this occasion demonstrates that Dr Woollard lacks the qualities of character which are the necessary attributes of a person entrusted with the responsibilities of a medical practitioner such that he cannot be relied upon to put the safety of patients ahead of his own interests or desires,” it said.

Since Dr Woollard’s medical registration was about to lapse, the tribunal heard there was no need to have it cancelled, and instead ordered he be disqualified from reapplying for registration for a five year period from 1 November 2018.

The tribunal was told there was no need for a fine as the five year disqualification meant “Dr Woollard’s medical career will effectively be at an end” and this was sufficient penalty.

Dr Woollard was reprimanded and ordered to pay costs for the Medical Board.

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