• WORDS Caroline Dando - Catherine Henry Lawyers

Taking on Rogue Doctors for Local Women

Hunter woman, Krystal Bailey, is one of dozens of women alleging unprofessional conduct and substandard care at the hands of suspended cosmetic surgeon Dr Leslie Blackstock. These allegations include procedures being performed without an anaesthetist; asking patients while sedated if they’re satisfied with the appearance of their breasts or face-timing partners to seek feedback; no examination or assessment pre-procedure; surgery having to be redone; and incompetently managing complications from his surgery.

Dr Blackstock told Krystal that he could fix a deformity from a breast augmentation she had in 2014. She said, while under anaesthetic, Dr Blackstock informed her he didn’t have his proposed implants and sought consent to insert different ones. The surgery failed. Dr Blackstock’s remedy was to replace her implants with even larger ones, which also failed. He again replaced the implants with smaller ones, but a cavity formed between Krystal’s breasts. At the end of 2015, Krystal had more surgery where Dr Blackstock inserted the originally proposed implants.

Krystal will need further surgery, but she won’t have it performed by Dr Blackstock. She said the process has left her in debt and impacted her mental health.

“The time I took off for surgery meant I wasn’t able to work as much, so I started putting expenses on credit cards to survive,” Krystal said.

“I didn’t get what I asked for from Dr Blackstock, but I felt powerless to do anything about it,” she said.

But Hunter law firm Catherine Henry Lawyers has helped Krystal to successfully settle a case against Dr Blackstock. Krystal said getting a lawyer wasn’t about getting money.

“I just needed to be rid of my debt and pay for my corrective surgery. It isn’t just the botched surgery; it is the fact that he lied about his qualifications and showed no remorse,” she said.

Principal Catherine Henry said her firm helps many women who’ve suffered at the hands of rogue doctors. Doctors such as obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Emil Gayed and pelvic mesh surgeon Dr Richard Reid.

Catherine is expanding her award-winning health law team to help more people who have been victims of botched surgery as well as those who experience birth trauma, receive incorrect prescriptions or anaesthetic, or experience inappropriate behaviour by a healthcare professional. Accredited specialist in personal injury law Erin Woodward has joined the firm to work in Newcastle and the Mid North Coast.

Catherine has decades of experience in health and medical law, in both Sydney and the Hunter, working on many high-profile cases, particularly in relation to women’s health. Her firm’s expertise was recognised late last year when she and senior associate Lucy Wilk made the prestigious Doyle’s list of NSW’s top 16 medical negligence plaintiff lawyers. Catherine Henry Lawyers is the only firm headquartered in Northern NSW and one of only two firms based outside of Sydney to make the list. “It is important for people to take a stand and hold doctors and local health professionals to account,” Catherine said.

“Those who have had substandard medical treatment are entitled to compensation. Litigation is a powerful tool in forcing changes to health care practices.

She said having an in-house registered nurse means that, unlike other firms, her team quickly get to the crux of the case.

“We know what the clinical practice should be and the right questions to ask to establish the liability of the health care professional or health facility. We have a 100 per cent success rate with health and medical negligence cases.”

Catherine said the firm’s, free, e-book to help women navigate the legal system has a large section on health law matters.

IMAGE Top left L–R: Tom Hunter-Leahy, Hayley O’Brien, Catherine Henry, Lucy Wilk, in-house nurse Alex Wilson, and Erin Woodward outside Newcastle Courthouse.

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