As reported in a recent KGUN9 News article highlighting the issue of Tucson medical malpractice, a prominent Arizona doctor is under investigation by Canadian authorities regarding suspicions that he may have mishandled cases, including administering unapproved treatments, which may have contributed to the deaths of at least four cancer patients in Canada, where he had relocated after leaving behind his similar medical practice here in our area.

Dr. Suresh Katakkar had practiced in the Tucson area for approximately thirty years before accepting a position as chief oncologist with the British Columbia Cancer Agency (BCCA) in 2010, when that Agency opened a new cancer treatment center. While continuing his unusual treatments, the doctor apparently received a mixture of praise and complaints from patients in Canada, just as in Tucson.

It seems that he left Canada and returned to Arizona in June, 2013 amid mounting criticism of his experimental treatments which may have harmed some patients. The trigger for his departure from Canada appears to have been the outcry following the death of a 34-year old cancer patient, who voluntarily underwent a risky, unapproved treatment administered by the doctor– By chance, the patient was related to a Canadian politician, who sounded a loud alarm about the doctor’s treatment methods.

According to Canadian review and oversight authorities, the doctor’s cancer treatments were outside the norms of acceptable patient care, even considering the desperate circumstances of some patients. In reviewing more than 500 cancer cases treated by the oncologist during his tenure at BCCA, the Canadian authorities found that 8 cases resulted in serious-yet-avoidable harm from the doctor’s actions, and that in another forty-two cases patients received substandard health care.


Pattern or coincidence?

Aside from the doctor’s track record in Canada, residents here in Tucson have also complained about irregular diagnoses and unusual treatments. In a Tucson medical malpractice lawsuit from 2006, for example, an injured patient sued the doctor for failure to perform a critical diagnostic test which would have helped the patient avoid later suffering. In that case, the patient won a million-dollar legal award when a jury ruled against the doctor.


Outside the norm

According to Canadian authorities, most of the doctor’s infractions did not involve desperate cancer patients. In fact, most complaints were based on the doctor’s divergence from accepted standards of health care in circumstances when patients weren’t in terminal condition, which suggests that his unusual treatments may have been inspired by personal preference rather than medical necessity. Although these irregular treatments eventually attracted the attention of medical review authorities in Canada, which is known for strict health-care oversight rules, it is difficult to predict how long the doctor’s unorthodox activities might have continued if left unaddressed, or whether additional Tucson-area patients may have unknowingly been affected.

Fortunately, savvy Tucson medical malpractice attorneys have the experience and resources needed to reconstruct and investigate bungled treatments and medical errors that result from medical malpractice. If you or someone you love has suffered from medical malpractice by a doctor in Pima County or surrounding areas, a Tucson medical malpractice lawyer can discover what happened, explain the available options, and help win the relief you deserve. To learn more, call the Bob Barber Law Firm at 520-293-4440 today.