Back in March 2011, the WSJ reported that a neurosurgeon in Oregon, Vishal James Makker, had medical malpractice suits against him because of his extremely high rate of repeat surgeries, perhaps the highest in the U.S. His repeat surgery rate was 10 times the national average. One patient had 12 neurosurgery’s performed on her by this person.
It is instructive to recall that this doctor wasn’t reported by the hospitals at which he performed the surgery nor was this called out by other physicians. It was the patients themselves who shed light on this problem. This habit of doctors ignoring malpractice by other physicians has been called “the wall of silence” in a terrific book of the same name by Rosemary Gibson.
According to a WSJ article on October 12, 2012, “Another half-dozen suits are pending against Portland-area hospitals and surgery centers, most of them alleging they allowed Dr. Makker to operate despite obvious red flags because of the lucrative business he brought them.” I wish those lawsuits well.
After an 18 month investigation by the Oregon Medical Board, Dr. Makker was finally forced to surrender his medical license. It is amazing how long that took, isn’t it? After all it’s only patient’s health and safety that is involved, right? Why rush things? Click here to read the full article.
Makker is possibly the worst offending neurosurgeon on repeat surgery. At least he’s had his license revoked. But I have two questions. First, why is he not in jail?
The second question is when are they going to go after the second worst, and the third? We need to start calling this sort of thing what it really is, violence against patients. Until that happens, state medical boards will have no credibility with the public and no moral or ethical standing. Too often state medical boards are facilitators of terrible doctors, not true overseers.
Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting, LLC, and Partner and Chief Strategy Officer with Laurus Strategies, a Chicago-based consulting firm. Prior to starting his consulting career, Tom was with Walmart Stores, where his last position was Vice President, Global Benefit Design, which involved designing and managing benefits for over 1.3 million employees in the U.S., and 300,000 plus in international. For about six years, Tom also headed up Walmart’s Six Sigma and process improvement initiatives. Prior to Walmart, Tom had positions with Burger King Corporation, British Petroleum, and American Fidelity Assurance Company. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in health care the US for his work on medical ethics.