Public Statement in relation to Mr Andrew Katelaris

25 October 2016

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission conducted an investigation into a complaint that Andrew Katelaris, a deregistered medical practitioner, administered intraperitoneal injections of cannabis oil to two women with ovarian cancer in September 2015, which resulted in serious adverse reactions and their prolonged hospitalisation.

The investigation found that Andrew Katelaris breached the Code of Conduct for non-registered Health Practitioners and provided health services in an unsafe and unethical manner when:

  • he devised a hasty, ill-conceived and unsafe clinical trial of injected cannabis oil as a treatment for malignant ascites;
  • he obtained cannabis resin from the black market and did not ensure that it been analysed for its potency and potential contaminants before administering it by injection;
  • he did not obtain informed consent from the women to whom he administered untested cannabis oil in that he did not explain he had been unable to test it first;
  • he told one of the women to defer telling her oncologist about the experiment until after it had been done, even though she expressed her discomfort at keeping back any information that may have a bearing on her upcoming chemotherapy and surgery;
  • he told one of the women to defer having her ascites drained because he needed to have her ascites present to test whether his trial had worked, even though he had no means of measuring this result;
  • he administered huge doses of untested cannabis via intraperitoneal injection and caused foreseeably serious complications for both women;
  • he withheld the fact that he had intraperitoneally injected cannabis oil when giving the clinical history for both women to hospital medical staff;
  • the incomplete and inaccurate clinical histories he gave to two hospitals caused unnecessary confusion to extremely busy hospital staff and interfered with or caused a delay in the delivery of appropriate medical care to both women;
  • he took and kept no clinical notes, measurements or observations in connection with the ‘trial’;
  • his ‘trial’ lacked authorisation, ethics approval, scientific legitimacy and credibility;
  • he provided a purportedly novel treatment that he was not qualified to provide as a deregistered medical practitioner without the ability to test the substance to be used, to monitor the progress of the patients, to measure the results of the treatment or to respond to any side effects or clinical emergency;
  • he put his own interest in self-protection and self-promotion ahead of the health and safety of two vulnerable women suffering from ovarian cancer.

The Commission is satisfied that Andrew Katelaris poses a risk to the health or safety of members of the public.

The Commission makes the following prohibition order:

  • Andrew Katelaris is permanently prohibited from injecting cannabis or any of its derivatives, either by itself or mixed with any carrying agent to any person.
  • Andrew Katelaris is permanently prohibited from supplying or administering cannabis or any of its derivatives to any person for the treatment, or purported treatment of cancer.

Since the Commission’s investigation into this matter raises issues relating to potential criminality, the Commission has formally reported the findings of its investigation to NSW Police, as is normal practice.

 

Further Information

The Statement of Decision can be found here.

For further information, contact the Executive Officer of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 9219 7444 or send an email to media@hccc.nsw.gov.au.

The information in this media release is correct at the time of publication. Orders may change; for example, conditions may no longer apply. For current information regarding the status of a registered health practitioner, including any conditions that currently apply, please check the National Register at www.ahpra.gov.au.