Skin cancer clinic doctor suspended over botched procedures

Skin cancers

By Michael Woodhead

21 Apr 2021

A GP who ran a skin cancer clinic in western Sydney has been deregistered and banned from performing skin surgery after being found to have practised beyond his level of competence.

Dr Falah Sharrad faced 11 complaints relating to the treatment of patients with conditions such as suspected melanoma, BCC and dysplastic naevus, at his clinic in Windsor between 2014 and 2018.

In a case heard by the Civil and Administrative Tribunal of NSW, Dr Sharrad was alleged to have performed substandard and inappropriate excisions and skin grafts on patients presenting with skin cancers and moles.

The complaints alleged that many of the procedures were either unnecessary or performed incorrectly and without informed consent.

The tribunal was told by the Health Care Complaints Commission said that the cases showed that Dr Sharrad lacked skills to carry out the surgery and should have referred them to a dermatologist or plastic surgeon

Among the issues raised were using excessive levels of local anaesthetic, failing to obtain a biopsy before procedures were carried out to remove lesions, and making incisions that were much wider and deeper than was necessary or appropriate.

The tribunal found that Dr Sharrad  failed to diagnose which lesions needed to be removed and which were benign and did not require medical attention. He also appeared unable to recognise his inability to undertake some procedures because of his lack of knowledge or experience.

The tribunal agreed with the submissions from the HCCC, which relied on a review of the complaints by Dr Peter Lye of the Chatswood Skin Cancer Clinic.

In relation to one complaint Dr Lye stated: “The doctor’s lack of understanding for the importance of diagnostic confirmation prior to invasive surgery in a cosmetic and functionally important location, the lack of insight into the limits of his ability, his lack of care and concern in performing major procedures in a suboptimal environment, and his minimal regard for consent and medical record keeping as part of good patient management lead me to believe that he was not adequately qualified to perform the surgical procedure. The standard of conduct was significantly below what is reasonably expected and invites strong criticism.”

The tribunal concluded that Dr Sharrad should be reprimanded for his conduct in the practise of medicine in relation to each of the complaints made against him.

It ordered that his registration be suspended for five months and that he no longer undertake any treatment that involves cryotherapy, cautery, suturing, laser treatment or the cutting of the skin for biopsy or excision.

Other conditions were imposed, including restrictions on the numbers of patients treated per days and a requirement to work under supervision.

The tribunal also required him to pay the costs of the HCC of $39,073.

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