An orthopedic surgeon in New York is fighting charges that he billed patients for procedures that he never performed, with one patient dying shortly after undergoing anesthesia for a "phantom" knee surgery.
At least 250 legal actions have been filed against Spyros Panos, a Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based surgeon, according to attorney J.T. Wisell who is representing 154 of Panos' former patients. The U.S. Attorney's Office is also conducting a criminal investigation into Panos, although he has not yet been charged with a crime.
According to Brian Brown, an attorney who represents the family of the dead patient, Spanos allegedly put one patient under anesthesia, "placed the scope in her knee, and then closed her up without performing any surgery." That patient died from a pulmonary embolism at home later that day, but an autopsy revealed that Panos never reconstructed her knee like he said he did in his post-operative notes.
One of Wisell's lawsuits alleges that Panos performed rotator cuff surgery on a patient whose X-ray showed no need for the surgery, and numerous others claim that Panos did not cement joint replacements together properly.
Brown accused Panos of using his patients "like human cash registers," scheduling as many as 22 procedures in a day. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, orthopedic surgeons average about 32 surgeries in one month.
The hospitals where Panos allegedly performed fake or wrong surgeries and his practice's medical group—Mid Hudson Medical Group—were named as defendants in many of the cases, Wisell added. Panos was fired from Mid Hudson Medical Group in 2011, but he is still licensed to practice medicine in New York without any mention of misconduct in the state's physician conduct database (Neporent, ABC News/Yahoo!, 7/18; Bradshaw, Poughkeepsie Journal, 7/21).
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