Dr Ralph Bright - Professional Misconduct - Disqualified from Practice

04 Nov 2019

The Health Care Complaints Commission prosecuted a complaint against Dr Ralph Bright, a medical practitioner practising in the areas of cosmetic medicine and stem cell therapy, before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.  The complaint alleged that the practitioner was guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct by inappropriately prescribing drugs and performing stem cell therapy on a number of patients.

In regard to prescribing, it was alleged that that practitioner Inappropriately prescribed compounded peptides to three patients and himself. This prescribing was in circumstances where the peptides had not been the subject of clinical trials, so the contra-indications and recommended dose and quantity were unknown. It was also alleged that the practitioner failed to obtain informed consent from those patients before prescribing.

The stem cell therapy complaints centred on two patients:

  • Patient D was a 75 year old female. On 20 December 2013 she underwent stem cell therapy performed by Dr Bright and was subsequently discharged to her nursing home. She died that evening. The Deputy State Coroner found that uncontrolled blood loss arising from a mini liposuction stem cell procedure caused hypovolemic shock, and ultimately the death of Patient D. The specific allegations in relation to patient D were that Dr Bright did not:
    • provide adequate pre-operative care because he did not ensure that Patient D had ceased taking blood thinning medication prior to the procedure;
    • provide adequate post-operative care and assessment when he failed to recognise that Patient D’s slow recovery and low blood pressure were signs of significant blood loss and then prematurely discharged her to her nursing home rather than arranging for her transfer to hospital;
    • exercise appropriate judgment when he performed stem cell therapy in circumstances where the procedure was experimental and not conducted as part of a clinical trial, where there was no reasonable prospect of a successful outcome, where he failed to obtain informed consent and where Patient D was not a suitable candidate given her overall health and co-morbidities.
  • Patient E suffered from a balance disorder and sought advice and treatment from the practitioner. Dr Bright performed stem cell therapy in November 2012. The complaint alleged that the treatment was inappropriate as there was no reasonable prospect of a successful outcome and no clinical evidence demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of that type of stem cell therapy. Dr Bright was also alleged to have failed to obtain informed consent for the treatment.

On 1 November 2019, the Tribunal found all of the stem cell therapy complaints proven and the majority of the peptides complaints proven.  Noting that Dr Bright was no longer registered at the time of the hearing, the Tribunal made orders that prohibit Dr Bright him from applying to be re-registered for a period of seven years. The Tribunal found that Dr Bright’s conduct “disclosed a reckless disregard for patient safety” and endorsed comments from the Deputy State Coroner describing the stem cell therapy provided as being analogous to ‘quack medicine’.

The decision can be found at NSW Caselaw

 

Further Information

 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.