A morbidly obese Sydney man dying of liver cancer has been awarded $350,000 because his doctor did not refer him to a weight-loss clinic or recommend he have gastric band surgery.
The landmark decision is being challenged by Luis Almario's Manly-based doctor Emmanuel Varipatis who argues he was not negligent in not referring the 68-year-old.
The Colombian-born Mr Almario was a patient of Dr Varipatis from 1997 to 2011 — during that period his 154cm frame carried 140kg.
The court found that Mr Almario's terminal liver cancer was a result of obesity-induced liver disease .
He has been given 40 weeks to live.
During Dr Varipatis's trial Justice Joseph Campbell agreed that Mr Almario's life-threatening condition could have been avoided.
"I am satisfied that but for the negligence of the defendant, the liver disease would not have progressed to cirrhosis and one could have expected a great improvement in his health generally," the Justice said.
Dr Varipatis was found negligent on three counts but has launched an appeal.
The GP argued that when Mr Almario first presented to him in the late 90s bariatric surgery was considered ineffective in dealing with obesity-induced liver disease.
The decision could pave the way for other morbidly obese individuals with life-threatening conditions to sue their doctors.
Sources: Nine News, Sydney Morning Herald
Author: Martin Zavan, Approving editor: Nick Pearson