Surgeon banned from practising medicine after fears of ‘incomplete’ colonoscopies

An Albury-Wodonga surgeon has been ordered not to practise medicine more than three years after she operated on the wrong end of a man’s colon.

On Thursday, about 2500 patients who had colonoscopies in Wodonga and Albury performed or supervised by Dr Liu-Ming Schmidt in the past five years were told their cases would be reviewed by doctors.

The recall impacts residents in the Albury-Wodonga region in Victoria and NSW.Credit:Getty Images

The recall was prompted by an independent review of procedures performed by Schmidt since 2018, which found evidence that some colonoscopies performed or supervised by the doctor were “incomplete” or lacked thoroughness.

On Friday morning, less than a day after Safer Care Victoria announced the recall of thousands of patients, Schmidt’s Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency registration was updated to say Schmidt could no longer practise medicine.

A recent coronial inquest heard that Schmidt performed surgery on the wrong end of a man’s colon in 2019. The man in his 70s died from complications of peritonitis (inflammation of the membrane lining the abdominal wall and covering the abdominal organs). The inquest is ongoing.

It is expected that many of Schmidt’s patients will need to undergo a repeat colonoscopy as a precautionary measure. A colonoscopy is a procedure that uses a tiny camera to look in the bowel, for patients who have bowel problems or other symptoms, or have done a bowel screening test that has returned a positive result.

The procedures were performed or supervised by Schmidt at Albury Wodonga Health (which has campuses in Albury and Wodonga), Albury Wodonga Private Hospital and Insight Private Hospital, located at the Gardens Medical Centre in Albury, between 2018 and 2022.

Safer Care Victoria chief executive Professor Mike Roberts said on Thursday that while the risk for most patients was expected to be low, it would be a distressing time for patients and their families.

“We’ll ensure each patient is supported and offered counselling throughout this recall, with those impacted to be contacted directly over the coming days and then individually assessed, with any follow-up care to be completed as quickly as possible.”

More to come.

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