Dr Atef Sallam – Medical Practitioner - Disqualification

27 August 2021

The Health Care Complaints Commission prosecuted a complaint against Dr Atef Sallam, a general practitioner before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘the Tribunal’).  The complaint arose from Dr Sallam’s conduct in administering injections into the neck and spinal area of 15 patients. 

It was alleged that on 31 July 2018, Dr Sallam administered a series of injections of a corticosteroid diluted in lignocaine into Patient A’s cervical spinal region in his rooms resulting in Patient A’s death.  It was also alleged that on 20 February 2018, Dr Sallam administered a similar injection into Patient B’s lumbar spine that inadvertently caused a full spinal anaesthetic leading to severe ongoing pain for Patient B. The Commissions complaint was that Dr Sallam did not have the requisite skills or training to perform the injections on Patients A and B. The complaint also alleged poor record keeping for all patients.

In its decision of 23 August 2021, the Tribunal found all of the complaint proven. The Tribunal noted that Dr Sallam was not properly trained to perform injections of the kind performed on his patients and that the failure of the practitioner to use radiological imaging meant that “his conduct was fraught with danger when injecting his patients in the cervical area, including the neck area.” The Tribunal found that the respondent’s treatment of his patients was incompetent, that he had no real insight into the risks that he was undertaking and that there has been no real expression of remorse from the practitioner.

The Tribunal ordered that:

  • Had Dr Sallam still been registered as a medical practitioner, the Tribunal would have cancelled his registration.
  • Dr Sallam is disqualified from being registered in the health profession, with a non- review period of 5 years.  
  • The National Board is to record the fact that the Tribunal would have suspended or cancelled the respondent’s registration in the National Register kept by the Board.

The full 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.

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