A surgeon in Tasmania was told by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to stop advocating a diet of low carbohydrates to his patients. Now, a Senate committee has recommended a new inquiry into AHPRA due to the perceived intimidation and bullying of its investigation process.
Gary Fettke, an orthopedic surgeon, has been recommending his patients to follow a low-carbohydrate healthy-fat diet. He believes that cutting down sugar and eating lots of pasture-fed meat, fish, vegetables and healthy oil are beneficial to everyone, including patients with diabetes.
The surgeon urged the Launceston General Hospital to change the food it serves to its patients. However, not everyone agreed with this concept, so a dietician at the hospital filed a complaint about the incident, prompting an investigation by the AHPRA into Gary Fettke.
Subsequently, it was found that Fettke was working outside his scope of practice and was not qualified to give specific nutritional advice. The diet he advocated is good but is not recommended for everyone. Thus, he was ordered to stop pushing his diet practices on his patients.
Apparently, Fettke also posted on his own website and social media accounts about his diet advocacy, which the AHPRA thought could mislead the public into thinking that cutting down sugar can slow down or cure cancer. On the other hand, Fettke defended that he never claimed that his diet is a substitute for radiotherapy, chemotherapy or other cancer treatments. He asserted that he only wanted people to think that proper nutrition could help therapy.
Fettke was also accused of pushing patients into the diet. Fettke said that he never pushed anyone into following what he preaches.
Fettke’s case prompted a Senate committee to call for inquiry into AHPRA. The way the AHPRA conducted its investigation was perceived as bullying and intimidation. Tasmanian Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson, who sat on the initial inquiry, also believed that the complaints on Fettke could have been the result of malicious intention.
AHPRA has not commented on this issue yet.