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More than two dozen women who have had serious surgical complications are calling on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to make public the records of doctors' medical mistakes.

Many of the 26 women from in and around Toronto who have filed complaints against Scarborough obstetrician and gynecologist Richard Austin said at a press conference yesterday that they could have avoided years of hardship had they known about his surgical complication rate. Three of the women have launched malpractice suits against Dr. Austin, said Toronto-based lawyer Amani Oakley. The suits against Dr. Austin and several other parties at Scarborough General Hospital allege the physician was negligent.

"A lot of these women are walking around with bags for their urine and bags for their stool around their bodies because of the extent of the damage," Ms. Oakley said in an interview yesterday. Women who are suing the doctor say in their statements of claim that they suffered perforated bowels and bladders.

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Dr. Austin was not available for comment last night.

While data are collected on patient care, hospitals don't make the information public. And complaints about doctors are rarely divulged by the profession's self-regulating College of Physicians and Surgeons, Ms. Oakley said.

Only about 1 per cent of the complaints investigated trigger a college disciplinary hearing that is public.

"Why would the doctor's right to hide that supersede your right to know that doctor has a track record where there's been a number of complications?" Ms. Oakley wondered.

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