Every once in awhile something I see or hear sticks with me for weeks after I run
across it. A new song plays on repeat in my head.
The premise of a particular article gnaws at me
for days on end. I envision a specific scene from
a movie I just saw. Simply stated, something has
made an impression.
Such was the case with the story of New York
surgeon Dr. Spyros Panos. According to an ABC
News article from July 18th of this year, there
have been more than 250 legal actions taken
against Panos in the state Supreme Court of Dutchess County, N. Y. Most
of the cases involve allegations of fraudulent surgeries, medical negligence,
or unnecessary and excessive procedures.
One particular case alleges Panos wrote post-operative notes detailing
six surgeries he performed on a patient, while hospital and autopsy records
indicate no such procedures took place. Another alleges he performed rotator cuff surgery on a patient whose x-ray was clean. Numerous others allege
he failed to cement joints together properly or used the wrong components
to repair a joint. The accusations are both countless and serious in nature.
Nevertheless, he is still licensed to practice in New York State.
I find the entire story very, very troubling. No, Panos has not been
charged with a criminal offense. No, he has not been forced to pay a single
cent to those who have taken legal action against him. No, it looks like he
isn’t practicing right now. His employer, Mid Hudson Medical Group,
terminated his employment in 2011. But if at least some of the allegations
are true, it begs the question of how a surgeon can get away with faking surgeries and conducting extremely unnecessary procedures on a significant
number of patients.
Whether they want to or not, a patient is required to place their trust in
the hands of a surgeon when they undergo a procedure. He or she needs
to believe the surgeon knows what to do, how to do it, and is willing to execute the procedure to help overcome the feelings of fear and vulnerability
some people experience when faced with the prospect of going under the
knife. To not only know a surgeon getting away with fraudulent surgeries,
unneeded procedures, and incredible amounts of medical negligence is
possible, but may have actually happened to a number of patients is an
incredibly unsettling thought.
Panos’s level of guilt or innocence aside, something went seriously wrong
in the operating room and patients were adversely affected.
The story has stuck with me and left me asking one question, and it isn’t
“What really happened?” The question I can’t help but ask is “How can
the medical community prevent this from happening again?”
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