Surgeon accused of faking hundreds of operations

A surgeon is facing bizarre and troubling accusations from hundreds of his former patients. They say he only pretended to operate on them, collecting payments for joint replacements and other operations that he faked. The patients say they continued to experience pain and other symptoms as a result of the doctor’s fake surgeries.

While we have discussed wrong-site surgery and other forms of surgical error in this blog before, it likely sounds too strange to be true that a surgeon would wheel his patients into the operating room, pretend to perform a necessary operation and lie about it to the patients’ faces. But that is what at least 261 people are saying happened to them. They are suing the doctor for medical malpractice for deliberately failing to treat their medical problems.

It appears that the doctor deceived his surgical staff as well as his patients. It is not clear whether any nurses or other members of his team ever became suspicious, but an orthopedic surgeon not involved in the case noted that it is possible to fool other people in the room. Instruments such as scopes can be inserted into the body without any actual surgical maneuver being performed. Many times, the staff does not have time to notice, the surgeon said.

One of the plaintiffs in the case says she was a personal friend of the defendant whom she trusted completely. She went to him for several joint replacements over the years. But after the doctor “operated” on her shoulder in 2005, the pain got no better. The doctor performed a second “surgery” four years later with the same result.

Finally, another doctor noticed that a piece of bone that had supposedly been cut away was still present in her body. The woman’s shoulder still hurts and she is afraid to find out whether the defendant faked any of her other operations.

Source: ABC News, “Faked Surgeries Are Rare but Hard to Find,” Liz Neporent, July 25, 2013

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