A toddler has died and his baby brother was left in a serious condition after undergoing circumcisions at a Perth clinic.
Police say the death of the two-year-old is not being treated as suspicious.
The boy’s brother underwent emergency surgery overnight, but has since been discharged from hospital.
“The death of the two-year-old boy is being treated as non-suspicious and a report will be prepared for the coroner,” a police spokesperson said. “It can be confirmed the boy underwent a medical procedure at a registered medical centre prior to his death.”
Circumcision is banned at Australian public hospitals unless it is required for medical reasons, although the surgery can be carried out at private clinics by a general practitioner. The two boys underwent the procedure at a private facility in Perth, according to 7 News.
According to the report, the boys were rushed from the medical facility to the Armadale hospital emergency department on Tuesday night following procedures. The two-year-old was pronounced dead on arrival, while the infant was rushed to Perth Children’s hospital to undergo emergency surgery. He has since been discharged, a hospital spokeswoman confirmed.
It is unclear whether the procedures were performed by the same practitioner, or what qualifications they had.
In Australia, most circumcisions are performed by general practitioners. According to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians [RACP], most circumcisions are carried out for family, cultural or religious reasons. Very rarely is a circumcision done for medical reasons.
Concern has previously been expressed by some RACP members that pain relief provided is not always adequate and that general practitioners may not be skilled enough to treat complications that arise or to manage pain, prompting calls to have the procedure only performed by a paediatric surgeon plus an anaesthetist.
The RACP policy statement on male circumcision states, “After reviewing the currently available evidence, the RACP believes that the frequency of diseases modifiable by circumcision, the level of protection offered by circumcision and the complication rates of circumcision do not warrant routine infant circumcision in Australia and New Zealand.”
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra), which investigates health practitioners, for comment. A memorandum of understanding exists between WA police and Ahpra to better facilitate the sharing of information about practitioners.
A spokesperson for Ahpra said; “Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia are aware of media reports of this incident and extend our condolences to the family”.
“We are precluded from discussing individual cases except what is available publicly. This includes disclosing whether a practitioner is the subject of a notification or is being investigated.”