Dr. Charlie Teo, a neurosurgeon, has been prohibited from doing high-risk surgeries by the Medical Council of NSW for 15 months, which has prevented him from practicing in Australia. Let’s see What happened to Dr. Charlie Teo and Why he was banned from operating in Australia, in detail
For more than a year, renowned brain surgeon Charlie Teo has been unable to perform operations in Australia.
Many of the patients who asked for his assistance during that time died while they waited. Dr. Teo feels “helpless” for the people he thinks he could have rescued since his hands are tied.
Families strong hope in Dr. Teo’s treatment
Numerous families who need the neurosurgeon’s expertise have written to The Sunday Telegraph, but he is hesitant to accept their cases if he can’t do the surgery in Australia.
Some people have traveled across the world to seek his assistance when their own country’s doctors refused to carry out these difficult operations.
One distraught mother confessed she approached Dr. Teo’s Sydney office after being informed by many neurosurgeons that her son had no chance of survival. She wished to remain anonymous.
The reply she got was the final fatal blow—the “one person who could give hope” was unable to communicate with her. She lost her son two days later.
Dr. Teo was contacted by The Sunday Telegraph, and due to investigations by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), he reluctantly agreed to give an exclusive limited interview this week.
How did Dr. Teo reveal his feelings in an interview?
In the interview, he revealed his feelings of “helplessness” in knowing that he can’t help the people who contact his offices daily—people he knows he could potentially give a second chance at life when no one else is willing.
The Member of the Order of Australia honor winner is suffering from the strain on both a physical and mental level. When they’re sobbing over the phone and saying, “We just want your opinion, my son’s death,” it’s really difficult to not feel an overwhelming sense of sorrow and sadness, according to Dr. Teo.
And, you know, pretty conservatively, with additional surgery, at least five patients a week may be cured or have their lives prolonged. The fact that this has given a very obvious message to young and creative neurosurgeons who may have been ready to move outside the box, in my opinion, is the worst thing that has resulted from my persecution by envious colleagues and vilification by a particular media outlet.
“We’ll come after you if you offer opposing second opinions and don’t follow the party line, that is the message that is loud and obvious. I’ve sent several patients to colleagues who I believe have the knowledge and compassion to help while I am unable to provide my services to the Australian public.
Unfortunately, their colleagues or, even more disturbingly, their hospitals have deemed the proposed surgeries too risky.”
Why Dr. Teo was banned from operating?
Dr. Teo is not permitted to do high-risk procedures without a second independent neurosurgeon’s written consent, according to the Medical Council of NSW. The limitations won’t change until a hearing later this year.
The Medical Council placed several restrictions on Dr. Teo’s practice in August of last year as a result of complaints about his practices and claims that he gave patients false optimism. The proceedings also took place amid media criticism of his conduct, patient fees, success rates, and other issues. At the time, Dr. Teo confidentially revealed to The Saturday Telegraph that he had been the target of an unfair witch hunt.
Because two of the three cases that were brought to the HCCC’s attention and eventually led to the Section 150 tribunal were still open, he didn’t want to talk about them. Let’s just say that, “despite my best efforts,” he is nevertheless grieved by these two unfortunate events. He also noted that “occasionally things don’t always go the way they are intended through no fault of anyone.”
At the time, he noted, “The core of all three concerns was that I was foolish in proposing surgery to these three patients because others had considered them inoperable.”
I believe it to be a very sad day for Australian medicine if doctors who are going above and above to fulfill patient desires are shunned, demonized, and executed.
“Don’t get me wrong; transparency is crucial, if not required if you’re going to do something that hasn’t been supported by the medical literature. However, in each of these three instances, medical research backed up my recommendations to operate. Concerns about the pre-operative consent procedure were the other problem.
“I am very cognisant of how vulnerable these patients and families are and offer informed consent accordingly.”
After the restrictions were put in place Healthscope, Australia’s only national private hospital operator and healthcare provider with a network of 41 hospitals that service every state and territory, would not renew Dr Teo’s privileges.
“You’ll have to ask Healthscope why they refused to re-credential me, but the reason they gave me was that, given the circumstances of professional isolation and media scrutiny, I was now considered too high risk,” he said.
Healthscope said, “the restrictions placed on Dr. Teo by the Medical Council of Australia meant that it was no longer feasible or practical for Dr. Teo to remain accredited to practice at Prince of Wales Private Hospital”.
Dr. Teo admits his hard times
“Please allow me to operate in your hospital,” Dr. Teo pleaded after approaching numerous other hospitals and claiming to still have a license to practice medicine. Almost every hospital has stated, “Oh, my God, yes, we’d love to have you here,” but communication suddenly stops when the procedure moves to the next stage and requires permission by the relevant medical boards, i.e. the neurosurgeons in those hospitals.
“When I’ve contacted hospitals without a neurosurgery department, they’ve said they’d love to have me so I can meet with all the executives.
Unfortunately, even institutions without neurosurgeons have conservative doctors who say no to reducing risk to themselves and the hospital as soon as they consult with medical advisory boards and experts.
Dr. Teo has been kept busy in the interim by his demand for his creative surgical methods as well as his reputation for patient communication and respect, which the NSW Medical Council has found he lacks. He has also been performing free surgeries all around the world.
What did the Medical Council of NSW spokesman state?
The Queensland doctor was rejected, but the Medical Council of Australia declined to comment on it, directing the Sunday Telegraph to websites that explain the supervision policy.
A Medical Council of NSW spokesman stated: “By law, the council cannot disclose about a specific practitioner or active inquiries unless the material is information that is available to the public. The Council is currently unable to provide any additional public comments.
Dr. Teo claims that both before and after the Medical Council limits, he constantly offered to perform surgery in the public system for free for public patients. However, he has been denied the ability to work.
People traveling overseas to meet Doctor Teo
Many families have come forward and shared their experiences traveling overseas to see Dr. Teo. Also telling stories of travelling abroad to seek the services of Dr Teo. Others expressed concern that Dr. Teo’s services won’t be available in Australia if their cancer recurs and they need surgery once more.
Going abroad would be cost prohibitive, given that the hospital charges for surgery in Australia may occasionally surpass $100,000 in the private sector. “It is real. The extra cost of traveling to and staying in a foreign country may be too much for many of these needy patients, despite my offer to forgo my charge, Dr. Teo stated.
Ray Cox has lived 10 months longer than everyone anticipated, except Dr. Teo. They were unable to assist me since I had the most aggressive brain cancer. When Mr. Cox received the news that he had a thalamic GBM in May of last year, “they all said it was a death sentence.” Thankfully, it occurred shortly before Dr. Teo faced constraints from the NSW Medical Council.
Charlie was the sole individual. He warned that the procedure is extremely risky and that you could pass away on the operating table the next morning, but here I am today, living life to the fullest. Everyone else said I only had a few weeks left. I’ve been here for ten months now. It’s miraculous, and Dr. Teo is miraculous.
Dr. Teo’s journey with his patients
Mr. Cox, a resident of Lennox Head, worries that should his illness come back, no one in Australia may be willing to undertake another surgery on his glioblastoma (GBM), a fast-growing and severe brain tumor that is also known as a grade IV astrocytoma.
“If I had to, I would travel abroad to locate Charlie, but we couldn’t afford it.” But without him, we can’t succeed. There is only him; there is no one else.
The news that Natalie had been given the death penalty by at least 12 surgeons was intolerable to Sydney’s father Scott O’Brien. He sought out Dr. Teo after being informed by numerous neurosurgeons that there was little chance of recovery. All the experts we met informed us that the outcome of my daughter Natalie’s cystic tumor in her pineal area would be death, according to Mr. O’Brien.
They all agreed that it is in the middle of the head, just beneath the brain, and that we simply cannot access it.
The O’Briens will be seen by Dr. Teo in his Sydney offices. “He was completely honest with us. He even requested that the conversation be recorded since he anticipated speaking for a considerable amount of time, according to Mr. O’Brien.
The danger factors are high; you could be a vegetable or die on the table. Record this dialogue so you can leave. He was straightforward and gave us the whole story. My daughter remarked, “I can’t live the way I am and if I don’t get the operation, I’m going to die,” when we returned home and repeatedly listened to it.
I want to take action. Additionally, Dr. Teo informed them that he could not conduct the surgery in Australia.
To travel to Europe where doctors could carry out the dangerous surgery under Dr. Teo’s supervision on July 26 of this year, Mr. O’Brien “found the money like you do when your daughter is dying.” I’m hoping it’s a one-time thing, said Mr. O’Brien.
Public’s opinion of charlie’s helpless situation
I’m devastated to think that Charlie would not be able to help others the way he has helped us, not only for us but for others as well. I hope we only see Charlie at some fundraising, not again in the hospital.
The typical Australian is unaware of what this man does for others, and is unaware of the harm it is causing him. To those who criticize him, I would ask them who they would turn to if their child, wife, or husband had the same condition as my daughter and had been given the death penalty. How would they react? The solution is obvious to me: they would rush to Charlie.
“That’s the absurd, hypocritical aspect of this whole thing. They are attempting to limit the options available to me and every other Australian. That is the fact; it is not a rumor.
The public shouldn’t believe that Dr. Teo has given up on Australia. The surgeon expressed the hope that he would soon be able to offer his surgical services to Australians who were in need.
Who was Dr. Charlie Teo?
Charles Teo (born 24 December 1957) is an Australian neurosurgeon. Teo was born in Australia to Chinese-Singaporean immigrants. He went to The Scots College and the University of New South Wales. And in 1981 he earned a degree in medicine and surgery from both institutions.
The astonishing career of Charlie Teo:
Before relocating to the US, Charlie Teo began his career in general neurosurgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. After completing his residency in Dallas, Texas, he received his certification from a US medical board, making him the sole Australian neurosurgeon. During his nearly 10 years in the country, Teo served as the Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s chief of pediatric neurosurgery as well as an assistant professor of neurosurgery.
He not only founded the Charlie Teo Foundation and the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation (formerly the Cure For Life Foundation) but he also self-appointed himself as the director of the Centre for Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery at the Prince of Wales Hospital after returning to Australia.
Teo established himself during his career as a leading expert in the field of minimally invasive (or “keyhole”) neurosurgery. Teo has worked with organizations like Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Albert Einstein University, Marburg University, and the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, and has been asked to speak and teach as a visiting professor in more than 35 countries.
Teo has authored numerous research papers and more than thirty book chapters. He continues to routinely teach in the US while simultaneously mentoring and funding the education of neurosurgeons from poor nations such as Peru, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Romania. He also treats neurologically unwell children from underdeveloped nations. Stan Zemanek, Dr. Chris O’Brien, and Jane McGrath are a few of Teo’s well-known patients.
In her biography, Life in his Hands, author Susan Wyndham described a tale between Teo and a patient who played the piano named Aaron McMillan. In Three Quotes From A Plumber: How a Second Opinion Changed the Life of a Woman with a Brain Tumor, Sally White, one of Teo’s patients, described her experiences.
The ABC’s Q&A, Good Medicine, 60 Minutes, Last Chance Surgery, Australian Story, Enough Rope, and Anh’s Brush with Fame were just a few of the TV shows that Teo appeared in.
An annual trust study called “Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Australian” asked participants to assess a prominent Australian on a scale of 1 to 10.
For many years, Teo ranked first or among the top five; in 2012, 2013, and 2014, Teo was named the most dependable Australian.
For his contributions to medicine as a neurosurgeon who pioneered minimally invasive procedures, as a researcher, instructor, and mentor, and via the founding of the Cure for Life Foundation, Teo was named a Member of the Order of Australia in 2011. At the University of Queensland in August 2007, Teo delivered the Errol Solomon Meyers Memorial Lecture, which celebrated its 50th anniversary. On January 23, 2012, Teo delivered the speech on Australia Day.
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