A medical college investigates the performance in Spain of an Australian surgeon with restrictions to operate in his country

Hermeticism around the performance of the Australian neurosurgeon Charles Teo in Spain. This specialist is a controversial figure in his country, where he has come to be investigated by health institutions and has restrictions imposed to operate on patients with brain tumors. Even so, the doctor has come to work abroad, just as The Australian press has revealedalthough there are unknowns about the health permits he has had in Spain.

Has been The Sydney Morning Herald, a newspaper that has been investigating this doctor for years, the medium that has revealed the presence of Charles Teo in Spain. It was another neurosurgeon, Marcelo Galarza – registered in Spain – who confirmed to the Australian digital that Teo had performed two surgeries with him at the Quirón health group hospital in Torrevieja (Alicante), according to information published in the Australian newspaper. That witness came to detail the nationality of the patients: one was from the US and the other Italian. Likewise, he explained to Australian journalists that Teo had obtained "a temporary permit" to carry out interventions in our country, as stated in the publication.

From the Collegiate Medical Organization (OMC) they assure this newsroom that "there are no temporary permits." “Anyone who is going to practice and is going to do a medical act, has to be registered. And you join a college if your degree has been approved, ”point out sources from the institution. In the same way, the general secretary of the Alicante Medical Association, José Manuel Peris Velarde, has positioned himself, confirming that they have contacted the Quirón hospital "requesting information in this regard", after elDiario.es consulted them about this case.

"This college of doctors does not record the professional practice of Dr. Charles Teo in the province of Alicante, nor is he himself registered as a member of this college or in the public registry of members of the Collegiate Medical Organization", they indicate from the entity Valencian. And Peris Velarde adds that "according to the current Law on Professional Associations, membership is mandatory to practice in Spain." There is only one exception, as he details it: a "special procedure" for doctors from EU member states. "Which does not seem to be the case," they warn from the school, being an Australian professional.

For several weeks, this newsroom has tried to get Galarza and Quirón to detail the work carried out by Teo in our country. The answer has not arrived, but the links with the Australian doctor that were published on the website have been eliminated. After the calls from elDiario.es, a post published on a blog in which The Galarza clinic is advertised. "A few weeks ago I had the privilege of performing in our Quirón Torrevieja neurosurgery unit, together with Dr. Charlie Teo, a case of bihemispheric brain tumor of considerable complexity", collected the post entitled Prf. Dr. Marcelo Galarza and dated January 1, 2022. "Thank you Charlie for sharing your tremendous experience," continued the publication that was spread accompanied by a photo of Galarza, Teo and three other people dressed in sanitary pajamas.

Although the post and the photo disappeared from the blog in which they were hosted, the text still accessible in the Google cache. in conversation with The Sydney Morning HeraldGalarza did detail what the role of the Australian doctor had been in our country. “Generally, he is the first surgeon, and I am usually the assistant”, he pointed out to the newspaper of that country. "Patients belong to Charlie." In addition, he explained – always according to the information published by the Australian newspaper – that Teo contacted him to attend to the US patient, after American doctors had doubts about the surgery.

After the publication of this information in Australia, this newsroom contacted Galarza. In a first conversation, he assured that he would answer the questions from elDiario.es and explain how Teo had been working in our country. “Send me everything you want to know. There is no problem, we are going to answer everything, but it has to be in writing, ”the neurosurgeon who figure in the medical team of the hospital of Torrevieja de Quirón. He also added that he wouldn't answer the phone because the Australian press "ended up publishing things" that he "didn't," he said. And he promised to respond via email.

That answer never came. “Due to a confidentiality agreement with the Quirón group, I am not authorized to give this type of information,” Galarza simply pointed out by email. From his press office, the health company only points out that Teo "is not part" of the "medical staff" of the Alicante hospital.

Without providing any details about his performance in our country, a spokesman for the Australian doctor indicates that Teo "is helping in neurosurgical procedures abroad, in addition to giving lectures and providing advice to other neurosurgeons." According to his representative, "although he is still" registered in his country of origin, this doctor "no longer performs brain surgeries in Australia."

Beyond the secrecy of all the protagonists, from the medical association of the province they warn that "according to the Law of Organization of Health Professions, clinical centers, such as the Quirón hospital, are obliged to verify compliance with the legal requirements for the professional practice of medicine”.

In Australia, Charles Teo is a controversial figure. The foundation that has his name It casts him as a neurosurgeon "famous for offering surgery to brain cancer patients who were given no hope." The local press came to publish articles about him, assuring that he had become "a hero" for his patients. In a story with more miraculous than scientific rhetoric, they even highlighted that Teo had the ability to intervene in "inoperable" brain tumors thanks to "minimally invasive techniques" that reduced "trauma." He became a member of the Order of Australia. A recognition that values ​​the work of citizens who "have shown outstanding service or exceptional achievement."

His meteoric career took a turn in 2019, when an investigative article in the media The Sydney Morning Herald raised suspicions about Teo's procedures. Australian journalists collected the testimony of more than a dozen fellow specialists of the controversial neurosurgeon. In these statements, they collected complaints alluding to a "narcissistic behavior" of the doctor and accused him of stipulating "high fees for patients with financial problems when these operations were also available in the public system."

The Australian press has contacted Teo's patients who underwent surgery abroad in recent months. Regarding his fees, the father of one of them, who was not operated on in Torrevieja, explained that he needed 90,000 dollars: 70,000 dollars went to the doctors and the hospital, according to the investigation of The Sydney Morning Herald.

The controversy was escalating until a year ago the Medical Council of New South Wales imposed restrictions on patients with two very specific brain tumors to operate in their country: recurrent malignant intracranial tumors and brainstem tumors. Since then, in the profile that Teo has open in the Australian Health Professionals Regulatory Agency, figure that the controversial neurosurgeon needs the written approval of a fellow endorsed by the Council before performing such operations. In that document, the specialist who endorses his work has to confirm that Teo has explained to the patient all the risks that the operation may bring and its economic cost.

The Council imposes restrictions on doctors who engage in conduct that could "pose a risk to the public," they indicate from the institution, "and works with them, where possible, to reduce that risk." In the conditions imposed by the New Wales agency, they also conclude that the neurosurgeon will have to undergo an "audit" of her work through "a random selection of her medical history." And you will hold meetings with his supervisor to address his professional behavior.

Although the Council of New Wales "does not have jurisdiction" outside of Australia, as the institution confirms to this writing, from the Alicante medical college they indicate that "as for the limitations of exercise imposed in the State of origin, they are subject to verification on the occasion of registration in Spanish territory, by presenting the appropriate certificate from the authorities of the State in question, for its effective application in our territory”. Other health sources assure that if there are restrictions "he could not be registered or perform surgical interventions in Spain."

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