Advertisement

Well-known neurosurgeon Charlie Teo has broken his silence about the recent allegations which have rocked his prominent 35-year career.

Last week, the Medical Council of NSW stated Dr Teo would be required to get the support of a second neurosurgeon before he performed specific high-risk operations.

These new conditions were imposed after Dr Teo attended a hearing at the medical council, instigated by a number of complaints from other surgeons.

Dr Teo’s registration now has some conditions attached to it including a requirement to meet regularly with a supervisor and get a supporting opinion from a fellow neurosurgeon, before operating on recurrent cancerous brain tumours and brain stem tumours.

Since the hearing, Dr Teo has mainly spoken through his lawyers but now the surgeon has personally addressed the allegations by talking to The Daily Telegraph.

Dr Teo has revealed he may walk away from medicine

When speaking about the allegations, Dr Teo revealed he may walk away from medicine.

He also addressed the claims he told sexual jokes while operating. These allegations first surfaced in a Sydney Morning Herald article in September 2019, with a nurse telling the publication she had heard Dr Teo making sexually suggestive jokes to his staff including saying “while you’re down there …” when a nurse was bending down to pick something up.

Dr Teo has today conceded he told “bad jokes” in the operating theatre.

“I’ll be the first to admit that I said that. I’m not gonna step back from that. I’ll take that on the chin. But never again. I can see how things can be taken out of context,” he said.

“Yeah, I was a dinosaur,” he added. “I used to tell bad jokes amongst my inner sanctum. In my defence, when you are totally focused on the job at hand, it’s difficult to think about being politically correct if it doesn’t come naturally.”

The nurse in question, Young Je, who Dr Teo made the jokes to, has since said she didn’t take the suggestions to heart.

“I wasn’t offended at all,” she said.

Ms Je has worked with Dr Teo for 12 years and they virtually consider each other as family.

“Our relationship is that special,” Dr Teo has said. “She was devastated when that came out.”

More conditions imposed on Dr Teo

The medical council has also ordered Dr Teo to file monthly reports of his procedures containing details of the surgery and patient; whether the patient travelled from interstate; any complications; and copies of all opinions from other surgeons, whether they approved or disapproved of the proposed operation.

Dr Teo – who is a NSW Australian of the Year finalist – must also meet regularly with a supervisor to discuss management of interstate patients, care after discharge, and “professional behaviour, including but not limited to communication with colleagues and patients”.

Regular audits are also among the conditions published on Dr Teo’s profile on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency website (AHPRA).

The notice states the council considered the restrictions appropriate ‘for the protection of the health and safety or any person or persons, or because it is satisfied that action is otherwise in the public interest.’

Dr Teo’s public statement

In a public statement last week, Dr Teo said he accepted the council’s direction to consult with another neurosurgeon on “two rare types of surgery” and “will also have retrospective discussions with a colleague to review outcomes”.

His statement read: ‘Dr Teo believes that his treatment of patients, who suffer from extremely rare, complicated and terminal brain cancers, had always been in line with local and inter­national standards of care and welcomes greater transparency of his office procedures.’

‘I am often approached by patients suffering from brain cancer who have been told that there is nothing else to be done.

‘Published manuscripts over the past 30 years show that my success rate with these so-called “inoperable” tumours has been very successful in curing “incurable” tumours, ­ extending survival or improving quality of their lives.’

Image: Charlie Teo Foundation / Instagram

This article first appeared on Over60.