AGP doctors guilty of professional misconduct

The chief medical officer of the 2001 Australian GP and his deputy were found guilty yesterday of professional misconduct over the Graeme Beveridge fatality, in complying with a Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) protocol [Jul 30]. The Medical Practitioners Board of the state of Victoria concluded that Dr David Vissenga and Dr Paul Temme knew that there was no medical reason for the track marshal not to be declared dead in the trackside medical centre

AGP doctors guilty of professional misconduct

The ASN's protocol (agreed with the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne) stated that any person who died from any cause on the track in Albert Park was to be given full resuscitation before being transferred to The Alfred and certified dead there. The 52-year-old track worker was mortally injured in a freak accident when he was struck by a detached road wheel after a collision during the race. He was taken to the trackside medical centre.

Board president Dr Joanna Flynn said that evidence had been given to the panel that the marshal was declared dead by Dr Christopher Atkin, a trauma surgeon from The Alfred, in the trackside medical centre. Dr Temme then contacted Dr Vissenga to inform him that a death had occurred in the medical centre. On Dr Vissenga's advice, Dr Temme then gave directions that the protocol should be followed. "The panel is satisfied that Dr Temme knew that this included continuing resuscitation even though it was of no medical benefit," Dr Flynn said.

Dr Temme told a nurse to cross out the time that resuscitation ceased, and ordered the body to be transferred to the hospital by helicopter under ongoing cardiac massage. The board declared: "Directing a nurse or a medical practitioner to alter a record of what has happened to a patient, or to write an incomplete account of what has occurred, is a fundamental violation of appropriate professional behaviour. That Dr Temme felt the need to do this, and did not then question himself or others about whether this was appropriate, demonstrates a serious lack of judgement."

At The Alfred, attempts to resuscitate the victim continued. Later he was again certified dead at The Alfred.

Three other doctors (Dr Atkin, Dr David Cooper and Dr John Moloney) who gave medical aid to the victim were cleared of professional misconduct. The panel is currently deciding penalties for Dr Vissenga and Dr Temme.

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