Rope-A-Dope: Leading Facial Surgeon Removed From Hospital Panel After Repeatedly Punching Patient In Face During Surgery

220px-Bellows_George_Dempsey_and_Firpo_1924Professor Ninian Peckitt, 63, is under fire this month after the facial surgeon shocked colleagues by asking another doctor to hold the head of an unconscious patient and proceeded to punch the patient in the face up to ten times “like a boxer.” Now, this was not some pay back for an insult in a bar. Peckitt wanted to move a cheekbone back into place and decided to use a more Muhammad Ali approach.


While accounts say that colleagues at Ipswich Hospital gasped at the sight, a dental surgeon did apparently hold the head of the patient who was unconscious under anaesthesia.

The patient’s cheekbone had become displaced when he fell out of bed at the hospital – requiring a second procedure.

This account is fascinating from a torts perspective. The doctor could claim that there is no alternative but to force the bone back into place and that, while shocking to watch, it is before than surgically cutting the bone. He could further note that physicians force bones back into place in a variety of circumstances and that he was using a series of hits to do the same. Presumably, if he had used an instrument to do this procedure, it would have been less controversial but he could argue that using his fist gave him better control and feeling in moving the bone.

There is also the unreported issue of whether he was in fact successful in moving the bone. However, there is a report that the patient was in fact injured and could have been left blinded by the action. A second operation was carried out to reduce the fracture to the left zygomatic bone.

Peckitt was working as an honorary locum consultant in oral and maxillo-facial surgery at Ipswich Hospital but has been “erased” from the medical register after his knock out round in surgery. The panel chairman, Dr. Ian Spafford said: “The panel has determined that Mr Peckitt’s misconduct is fundamentally incompatible with his continuing to practice medicine . . . the medical register. In the light of all the evidence presented to it, it is satisfied that erasure is a proportionate sanction in his case.”

Source: Daily Mail

52 thoughts on “Rope-A-Dope: Leading Facial Surgeon Removed From Hospital Panel After Repeatedly Punching Patient In Face During Surgery”

  1. I wish you all the best, Professor Peckitt. Thank you for the last link, as well. What a tragedy.

    The outspoken often pay dearly. This we know.

  2. Professor Peckitt,

    Dr. Adel Al-Jurf is one of the most gifted clinicians and surgeons that I have ever had the honor of knowing. He was also one of the most compassionate and kindest. What happened to him is a travesty…

    http://www.dailyiowan.com/2013/07/31/Metro/34194.html

    “His actions in threatening, demeaning, bullying, and interfering with the abilities of others to do their work failed to uphold dignity and honor in the medical profession.”

    In fact, it was just the reverse.

    Just one of many. These things often happen quietly.

  3. “The true level of bullying must be higher than that reported.
    There are serious consequences for patient safety. I am suggesting that this problem is much more common than we would like to admit and it is global.”

    All true. And thank you for the additional articles/information, Professor Peckitt.

  4. This url links up to a USA site where witnessed doctor bullying is reported as 21%.

    http://www.workplacebullying.org/2014/07/09/bma/

    The true level of bullying must be higher than that reported.
    There are serious consequences for patient safety. I am suggesting that this problem is much more common than we would like to admit and it is global.

    If we look at New York, New York as a model for the effects of “Zero Tolerance” on street crime we can appreciate the power of such a policy and return to “traditional values”.

    Zero Tolerance appears to be the answer to a whole load of problems….

    🎼🎵🎵🎶🎵🎵🎶

    So if we “make it there, we’ll make it anywhere, it’s thanks to to you New York, New York”

    (With grateful thanks to Frank Sinatra).

  5. “Only very egregious cases lead to the doctor losing their career in medicine.”

    With all due respect, you clearly have no idea…

    1. How many medical doctors in the U.S. can you cite as having lost their medical license from workplace bullying rather than substantiated proof of medical malpractice?

    1. Fascinating article about the bullied doctor. This kind of injustice sometimes happens over here, but the doctor is just let go and gets hired somewhere else. Only very egregious cases lead to the doctor losing their career in medicine.

  6. Professor, I am a private investigator who has worked for decades helping attorneys defend doctors, hospitals, etc. in civil medical malpractice cases. In medical malpractice cases, and indeed in ALL situations, legal or otherwise, I understand on a profound level there are always other sides of a story. Thank you for forthrightness in responding here.

    “The truth is never pure and rarely simple.” Oscar Wilde

  7. When I worked as a house dick @ the Drake Hotel in Chicago I had an eye opening experience. Northwestern Hospital is next door to the Drake. Women would have plastic surgery @ Northwestern, and after discharged, some would book a room @ the Drake for a few days. You see, after plastic surgery, you look like Joe Frazier tuned you up. These vain women didn’t want family/friends to see they had surgery, or to see them looking like monsters. I would catch a glimpse of these women sometimes. OUCH!

  8. You must not stay quiet 😪 and you must stay true to your consience.

    Your Founding Fathers were not stopped by the most powerful Army of the Day…. So I have every confidence in your resolve. It remains to be seen if you make the right choices.

    But we also need to remember that as a Society we are judged not just by financial success but also by compassion.

  9. Please keep us posted, Professor Peckitt. Thank you for for your comments and the DM link. It’s very difficult for nurses to provide the type of care that patients require, even in the U.S. And this was the situation before the ACA. It’s absolutely unacceptable, but I’m not sure how we’ll fix it.

  10. That will be for others to decide !

    This is not “The End” but it is perhaps The End of the Beginning”?

  11. This is very much a chicken and egg situation. Politics created the NHS and its outcome generated reform in a bid to reduce cost and taxes. But reorganisation costs were huge and the new NHS only spent 10% of its budget on patient care. Standards fell to appalling levels and running costs went out of control. Patients now die of starvation and dehydration and this appears to be accepted.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2287332/Nearly-1-200-people-starved-death-NHS-hospitals-nurses-busy-feed-patients.html

    It could be argued that the NHS has been set up to fail. It has long been the Nation’s Sacred Cow and difficult to change. So if it is made to fail, public opinion can be manipulated. And it has. But the change has not been for the better.

    So I agree with you President Obama needs to look at our history in the UK and not make the same mistakes.

    But so does the Private Health Care System. Spiralling costs affect private healthcare too and healthcare policies are useless if they don’t cover diseases.

    1. Professor Peckitt wrote: “… the new NHS only spent 10% of its budget on patient care. Standards fell to appalling levels and running costs went out of control. Patients now die of starvation and dehydration and this appears to be accepted.”

      Wow! I knew it was bad, but I did not realize it was that bad. Thank you for sharing this information.

      Do you think your opinion about these issues might have put a target on your back, leading to you being removed from the Medical Register?

  12. Professor Peckitt – thank you for sharing your side of the issue and providing more information.

  13. Pogo – sounds like there is a serious pattern of problems at that hospital.

  14. I appreciate your comments. Thank you….

    The safety of the patient is my prime concern and this takes priority over my own “safety” or anything else. What happened to my patient in a fall from bed was Wrong with a capital “W”. If I have failed in anything it is with my inability to get this case investigated. It will come as no surprise to learn that I have not given up.
    I understand your concerns with the Affordable Care Act but I would ask you to take a step backwards to 1948 when the British National Health Service was created. It was an outstanding success until the mid 1980’s. It was imperfect – yes. Absolutely. But it delivered the goods. It happened to be run by Doctors and “real” nurses in the front line and it was a joy to work in this environment. It was trusted and respected abroad, even in the USA !
    So what went wrong?
    We were then told that reorganisation was required “to meet the needs of the present day” and a managed market was introduced loosely based on the US System, but disobeyed all the laws of finance and economics. Reorganisation cost £billions followed by more reforms that cost even more £billions – and then Don Berwick was asked in to sort out the mess. A nicer guy you couldn’t meet, but his romanticised view of socialised medicine was the NHS of 1948 and not the Frankenstinian monster it had become. What we are seeing now is not socialised medicine but a shambles generated by political ineptitude. So we have a duty to speak out. And I do….
    I believe we need to look at where the train left the tracks in the United Kingdom and ensure that the same train wreck does not occur in the United States, or anywhere else.
    We also need to understand that private medicine is under tight control through insurance companies which can also deny treatment for policy holders. This has been the subject of law suits related to personal injury and a failure to fund – and one could argue that monetary problems with private medicine mirror the problems in the British NHS.
    Until we have the re-introduction of common sense, the future for a well managed healthcare system is bleak and we shall be at the mercy of the politicians.

    1. Professor Peckitt wrote: “What we are seeing now is not socialised medicine but a shambles generated by political ineptitude.”

      But isn’t the political ineptitude a product of socialized medicine?

      Our difficulty here in the USA, from my perspective, is the very existence of medical insurance companies and the regulations concerning that industry. I’m afraid that instead of recognizing this, President Obama moved us toward an insurance bailout with the ACA. We are headed in the direction of the UK model of health care, and I am afraid that situations like yours where politicians inject themselves in uninformed ways will become more prevalent.

  15. Professor Peckitt, our country has taken a step toward more government involvement of health care with our Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Your case seems to illustrate well the dangers and pitfalls of having bureaucrats and politicians oversee medicine. What they are doing to you is wrong.

  16. Ahhhhhh Pogo Another Oral Sadist Oh well…….. I suppose it takes all kinds of perverts doesn’t it to make a world go round. Next thing you know they will be demanding cakes be baked for themselves also before they are prostituted, oh, I mean proselyted, no?? what is that word??? prosecuted. Sorry, I have been away a few days and I am terribly confused anyway….. 😉

  17. Professor Ninian Peckitt:

    I hope I can make a contribution to your interesting blog which has raised some very interesting issues. I am somewhat limited in what I can state at the moment but can tell you that after this alleged incident I was a shortlisted finalist for an the Ipswich Hospital Trust Award as Clinician of the Year and was offered a new contract. I was not challenged nor reprimanded nor disciplined nor dismissed. I learned of the allegations 1 year later.

    The injury was a pan facial injury not a fractured cheek bone – and the repair had been completely destroyed in the fall. The patient could have been killed. The hospital notes related to the fall have gone “missing”.

    With reference to my method of treatment I would emphasise that a surgeon can only carry out a procedure for which there is informed consent. In this case the patient was clearly not fit for major surgery; the object of the exercise was to restore the occlusion and revise the midface at a later date when the patient was fit. The premaxilla had been lost and there was no way that Rowe’s disimpaction forceps could be used (the standard way to move the maxilla). Manual reduction was the only option in view of the wishes of the family and for patient safety. The potential for blindness is always present no matter what treatment is employed and is of very low risk. All surgeons understand this.

    The GMC has refused my repeated requests to investigate the fall and the GMC Council has refused my request for an investigation into the probity of the GMC.

    I reported the matter to the Chief Constable for Suffolk requesting an investigation. The matter has also been referred to the Health Secretary and to Mr Ed Milliband, leader of the opposition, who just happens to be my Member of Parliament and there is a General Election in progress.

    What is really interesting in this case is that the General Medical Council referred this case to the General Dental Council which found in my favour.

    My last letter to the Chief Constable reads as follows:

    To the Chief Constable for Suffolk

    Dear Sir,

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4418737.html

    The issue here is that this information of the GDC Ruling exonerating me was known by the GMC prior to their hearing and the Times newspaper article does not really make this clear.

    The GDC Ruling predates the MPTS hearing and was sent to the GMC but not acknowledged by the GMC. Furthermore, it was concealed by the GMC in the MPTS hearing.

    It is my case that this is a key piece of evidence, and the GMC has a duty of care not to withhold evidence in the Public Interest.

    The probity of the GMC is therefore in serious doubt.

    This strongly supports my allegations that the GMC is underpinning the targeting of clinicians who attract attention to patient safety issues and blow the whistle – despite their repeated denials. There can be no effective bullying unless it is underpinned by the regulator. Otherwise such bullying has no teeth.

    This can only mean that the GMC is not fit for purpose and I am alleging that this withheld evidence supports the allegation of the GMC being involved in a cover up.

    Patients remain at serious risk in the United Kingdom with current standards of GMC regulation; the GMC continues to refuse to investigate my allegations related to my patient’s safety and I am alleging that the GMC is clearly involved in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in withholding the evidence of the GDC Ruling.

    This situation appears to be historic; it confirms a dysfunctional regulatory system which needs to be addressed without delay before more patients are injured – or worse.

    ——————————————————————————————————–

    So your bloggers are correct. There is a bigger story here.

    I would like to ask a question.

    In the United Kingdom we have a system where the GMC (and GDC) prosecute litigation cases against doctors. The GMC also sits in judgment in the Case and the GMC also acts as executioner in passing Rulings. It seems to me that this implies some prejudice in the hearings and is potentially in breach of the principles of Natural Justice in which the judge should be neutral. I would think that mirrored procedures exist in the United States?

    So if the GMC is involved in underpinning institutional bullying which is admitted by government ministers could one theoretically overturn every GMC ruling that has ever been made?

    Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this debate.

    If you know a good lawyer please ask them to make contact !

    Professor Ninian Peckitt

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