NSW medical board knew of Indian Australian surgeon's cocaine addiction

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Sydney, Jan. 29 (ANI): The New South Wales Medical Board knew about Indian Australian surgeon Dr. Surendranath Nair's addiction to cocaine as far back as 2004.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr. Nair, who is facing serious drug supply charges in relation to the death of a woman in his apartment last year, was ordered by the board in April 2004 to undergo mandatory urine testing thrice a week while working at the Nepean Hospital.

It said four months later, he tested positive for cocaine and was suspended for about six weeks due to concerns about public safety.

The board's 2005 annual report said a doctor, who the Herald understands is Dr. Nair, "had a severe impairment in the form of cocaine abuse/dependency".

It was "considered that the practitioner must be suspended for the safety of the public until his rehabilitation was further progressed", it said.

He was allowed to return to work in October 2004, with stricter conditions placed upon his registration, including that he only work in a hospital position approved by the board. He was already not permitted to work more than 30 hours a week and had been subjected to health monitoring.

The Herald quotes a board spokesperson as saying that the Nepean Hospital suspended him from duty after a complaint about his clinical practice was referred to the medical board in August 2008, which by that time had "gradually eased" his conditions.

The complaint is still under investigation by the Health Care Complaints Commission.

Dr Nair has had other serious complaints against him, including the botched spinal operation of a 60-year-old woman, Helen Kerner, in 2006, in which the Sydney West Area Health Service has admitted a breach of duty of care.

However, Nepean Hospital still re-employed Dr Nair last year under supervision after the medical board again imposed restrictions on his registration from January but allowed him to continue working.

Yesterday, the board denied any knowledge of the suspected fatal drug overdose of yet another young woman, Victoria McIntyre, in the neurosurgeon's Elizabeth Bay apartment in February last year - nine months before a Brazilian woman, Suellen Domingues Zaupa, 22, died in similar circumstances.

Dr Nair is in custody on drug charges after Zaupa was found dead from a suspected overdose in his 1.7 million dollar apartment in November.

Nepean was unable to confirm exactly when he was re-employed in 2009 but said he was still working for the hospital when he was arrested. (ANI)

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