Doctors take aim at medical regulator over surgeon’s death
A respected obstetrician who died amid an investigation into his professional conduct was prevented from performing natural births unless a senior doctor supervised the procedures.
The restrictions on Dr Yen-Yung Yap's registration followed an anonymous and "vexatious" complaint to the national medical regulator about Dr Yap's repeated use of suctions, instead of forceps, to deliver two babies suffering from fetal distress, according to his colleagues.
The babies suffered bleeding between the scalp and the skull as a result of the suction procedure but had recovered, according to a media release issued by the Australian Health Reform Association in March this year.
In the release, the association claimed that an "anonymous notifier" had made a "false and misleading" claim against Dr Yap, 43, and had "overexaggerated" the number of "pulls" Dr Yap had performed on the babies.
"Despite the doctor providing his evidence, pointing out the gross errors in the notification and providing more expert reports supportive of the doctor's performance, the Medical Board decided to impose immediate action on the doctor as (an) interim order while await (sic) further investigation which can take many months if not years to complete," it said.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency restricted Dr Yap from performing vaginal births from March 9 this year, unless he was supervised by a senior obstetrician at his own expense.
The Australian Health Reform Association said this was a "de facto" suspension of Dr Yap's right to practice.
Dr Yap, a father of three who ran women's health and fertility clinics in Glandore and Port Adelaide, was found dead on September 5, two days after SA Police issued a public plea for information about his whereabouts.
Posters have been placed around Adelaide, including outside AHPRA's Adelaide CBD branch, with the words "AHPRA must take responsibility for the death of Dr Yung Yap".
A colleague of Dr Yap, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the "reputational damage" to Dr Yap was "irreversible in a small town like Adelaide".
"AHPRA has blood on its hands," he said. "It's far too easy to file a report anonymously and with no sequelae and often no care for vexatious claims."
An AHPRA spokeswoman said the agency "is aware that police are preparing a report for the coroner about Dr Yap's death and will co-operate with any inquiries".
Dr Yap's colleague described him as a well-respected obstetrician who brought "joy of parenthood to many who needed assisted reproduction".
"Society has lost a conscientious and caring healthcare worker, a wife a husband, and three young children a father," he said.
He said there was a "perceived secrecy" within AHPRA and how it conducts its investigations.
Former and current patients of Dr Yap have left heartfelt tributes on his clinic's Facebook page. Many described him as a wonderful and caring doctor.
The Advertiser reported on Monday that Dr Yap had appealed to the SA Health Practitioners Tribunal last year against conditions placed on his registration in March 2018.
Dr Yap's funeral is on Saturday, September 16.
Originally published as Doctors take aim at medical regulator over surgeon's death