PELVIC mesh device inventor and gynaecologist Peter Petros could potentially face further sanctions after the state's health watchdog referred professional misconduct findings against him to NSW Police.
The referral came after the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal in May found Dr Petros deliberately misled the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission between 2014 and 2017 over his financial interests in a pelvic mesh device he invented, the Tissue Fixation System, that in 2014 became one of the first in the world to be cancelled.
The tribunal was satisfied Dr Petros "deliberately set out to mislead the HCCC and to hamper it in its investigations".
Misleading the HCCC is a criminal offence under the Health Care Complaints Act.
The HCCC on Tuesday confirmed referral of the tribunal findings and other material to NSW Police and the Office of the Director of Public Prosections, after women patients left injured following surgery using the Tissue Fixation System device strongly criticised the lack of consequences for Dr Petros, despite the professional misconduct decision.
The tribunal could impose no disciplinary sanction against Dr Petros, 78, because he retired before its decision in May. The tribunal said it would have cancelled his registration for two years if he was still a registered surgeon.
In an email on May 31 in response to Newcastle Herald questions the HCCC said its decision in 2015 to include a specific complaint that Dr Petros deliberately misled the watchdog during its investigation "obviates the need for a separate prosecution".
After a direct appeal by a woman patient to the HCCC on August 20 the matter was referred to NSW Police and the DPP.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found Dr Petros repeatedly misled the HCCC from July 11, 2014 when he responded to questions after a woman's complaint by saying he no longer had a financial interest in the TFS device, without disclosing he removed himself from a family trust and resigned as director of a family company only four days earlier.
The tribunal found that both the trust and family company were financial beneficiaries of the TFS device under a property licence deed with Adelaide firm TFS Manufacturing, under which Dr Petros remained beneficial owner of the device's intellectual property.
In its decision the tribunal said that in an interview with the HCCC in October, 2015 he failed to mention his family's continuing financial interest in the device. When he produced a copy of the deed it was missing the page outlining his continuing financial interest. He did not produce the page for at least six months.
When questioned by HCCC investigators between July, 2014 and August, 2017 Dr Petros did not disclose $1.6 million in loans from his family trust to TFS Manufacturing.
In his July, 2014 response to HCCC questions Dr Petros also "knowingly provided false and/or misleading information" about why he attended a woman's implantation with the TFS device at Sydney Private Hospital, where she did not consent to its use.
The tribunal noted in its judgment that Dr Petros told the HCCC he was "merely the assistant", and held that he failed to disclose he was supervising another surgeon who returned from suspension after a woman nearly died during surgery. The surgeon was later found guilty of professional misconduct following complaints by a number of women implanted with the TFS device.
In response to Herald questions Dr Petros said he was not aware of any police investigation and denied misleading the HCCC.
Dr Petros lodged a registration to use his TFS device in an Austrian hospital trial in May only days before the NSW tribunal decision, and nearly five years after the device was cancelled in Australia on safety and efficacy grounds.
While you're with us, did you know Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here.
IN NEWS TODAY: