Disciplinary findings against Dr Paul Cozzi were determined on 3 November 2020. The Professional Standards Committee published its findings of unprofessional conduct and determined to reprimand Dr Paul Cozzi, urological surgeon, and impose conditions on his registration as a medical practitioner.
A copy of this decision can be found on the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) website (“the Decision”): https://www.hccc.nsw.gov.au/decisions-orders/media-releases/2020/dr-paul-cozzi-unsatisfactory-professional-conduct-reprimand-and-supervision-imposed
In the disciplinary findings against Dr Paul Cozzi, the Committee found that he was guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct on the basis that:
- It was not acceptable professional practice to have two concurrent surgical lists. In November 2015 Dr Cozzi had a surgical list at St George hospital and at Mater Private hospital. Dr Cozzi was responsible for supervising a trainee operating on his patients at St George Public hospital. According to the Decision, Dr Cozzi operated on three patients at the Mater, then drove to St George hospital and subsequently returned to the Mater hospital.
- He pre-signed blank count sheets and safety checklists for surgeries when he was not present at the public hospital which infringed basic standards of professional practice and regulations regarding record keeping for patient safety.
- Dr Cozzi provided contradictory information about his whereabouts.
- Dr Cozzi’s conduct was not only “significantly below the standard to be reasonably expected of a consultant urologist, it is also improper and unethical conduct.”
Choosing a doctor
It can be difficult to choose the right doctor for you if you are a private patient. Some tips that may assist include the following:
- You can check the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) register of practitioners which will list the registration details of the medical practitioners, based on the current details at the time the search is performed: https://www.ahpra.gov.au/Registration/Registers-of-Practitioners.aspx This register will list the medical specialty and qualifications and whether they meet the AHPRA requirements to have the specialty listed on the register for “surgery”. The register will also show any conditions imposed on the medical practitioner’s registration at the time the search is performed.
- If you are choosing a surgeon, you can ask whether they have completed the surgical training and accreditation with The Royal Australian College of Surgeons.
- Consider if you feel comfortable with the doctor. You should ask any questions you need so that you can make a fully informed decision about whether they are the right doctor for you and if you want to proceed with any proposed surgery.
Choosing a medical negligence lawyer
Some tips to consider when choosing the right medical negligence lawyer for you are as follows:
- Whether they are an Accredited Personal Injury Law Specialist. This is the only formal recognition of specialties of personal injury solicitors approved by the NSW Law Society.
- Tom Goudkamp, managing director of Stacks Goudkamp is the Chair of the Specialist Accreditation Advisory Committee which is responsible for the accreditation of personal injury law specialists. Before choosing a lawyer, ask whether they are an Accredited Personal Injury Law Specialist and about their experience. You should feel comfortable with your lawyer and how they communicate with you.
- Whether you are being provided with reasonable advice and realistic expectations about the legal process and your potential claim.
- Whether the lawyer practices exclusively in medical negligence or do they do all different types of legal cases? Medical negligence is a very specialised area of personal injury.
- Check how your fees will be charged. Will you be charged for time the lawyer has not spent on your case because you have agreed to paying a fixed price for their fees, including for work they have not performed if you win? In New South Wales, solicitors’ fees cannot be charged based on a percentage of the amount of compensation you may obtain.
- Ensure there are no hidden charges. Will you be charged for emails sent or received and the lawyers’ time to read and write the emails?
- Ask the lawyer to explain their cost agreement to you before you sign it. You should check whether a litigation lender is used to fund disbursements including for reports from medical experts. Use of litigation lenders will increase your legal costs. If you win the insurer for the medical practitioner or hospital being sued is not required to pay the costs a litigation lender charges you to lend money to your lawyers to fund your case. This means you receive less compensation.
If you have suffered an injury or lost a close relative due to medical treatment or lack of treatment please contact Alicia Wong, Practice Group Leader of our Medical Negligence Department who practices exclusively in this area. You can call Alicia anytime for a private consultation on 02 9237 2222. If we can assist, we will act on a “no win, no fee” basis.
We are committed to communicating with and helping each client in a way that best suits them to achieve the best legal outcome.