ON TRIAL: Dr Elamurugan Arumugam is accused of sexually assaulting seven patients between 2009-2013. He has pleaded not guilty to all 31 charges.
ON TRIAL: Dr Elamurugan Arumugam is accused of sexually assaulting seven patients between 2009-2013. He has pleaded not guilty to all 31 charges. Kerri-Anne Mesner

Plastic surgeon examination protocols questioned in trial

A FORMER president of Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons has given evidence in a trial involving claims of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct by a Rockhampton specialist.

Dr James Savundra, who is based in Perth, gave evidence on Tuesday and Wednesday during the trial of Dr Elamurugan Arumugam, who is accused of sexually assaulting seven women during examinations between 2009 and 2013.

Dr Arumugam has pleaded not guilty to all 32 charges against him - some are replacement charges of common assault.

Dr Savundra was pointed to evidence by crown prosecutor Tiffany Lawrence previously given by each alleged victim about parts of examinations conducted by Dr Arumugam - otherwise known as Dr Aru by patients and colleagues - where he either put his fingers in their mouths while not wearing gloves or placed his hand under their bra.

Six of the seven women claim he placed his fingers, while not wearing gloves, inside their mouths without any warning. They had gone to see him with skin cancer concerns.

Ms Lawrence asked Dr Savundra if there was any legitimate reasons a medical practitioner examining skin cancers would have to put their ungloved fingers in a patient's mouth.

Dr Savundra explained a doctor may put their fingers in a patient's mouth to examine the thickness of a skin cancer, but they would always do so with gloves on.

He said a 'true' mouth examination used cheek extractors and the doctor would wear a specialised loupe and headlamp.

"You might pick up the edge of the lip to feel for thickness," Dr Savundra said.

The court heard at least one of the women claimed Dr Aru put his fingers over their tongue. "There's no skin cancer that affects the tongue," Dr Savundra said.

Another woman complained that Dr Aru told her to suck on his fingers while his fingers were in her mouth.

Dr Savundra said he would inform patients if he required to feel inside their mouth before doing so, would wear gloves and the fingers would only be inside their mouths for five to 10 seconds.

"I would usually have to have a specific reason," Dr Savundra said. "I don't want to accidentally get bitten... I don't want to get my fingers clamped down on."

Dr Savundra answered questions relating to the allegations of three women who claimed Dr Aru inappropriately touched their breast, either through fabric or by slipping his hand under the bra for skin-to-skin contact.

Dr Savundra said a skin cancer check of a breast started with a visual only examination, with the patient not wearing a bra, and then, if required, a palpation examination using both hands for specific areas of concern.

Dr Arumugan will take the stand today to give evidence.