Former Oregon neurosurgeon Vishal James Makker surrendered his medical license this week following a state investigation into accusations that he performed unnecessary spinal fusion surgeries.
Between 2008 and 2009 Makker performed nearly 10 times more multiple spinal-fusion procedures than the average surgeon, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Makker denied any wrongdoing, but surrendered his Oregon medical license, according to a report from the state medical board, which characterized the surgeon’s conduct as "unprofessional or dishonorable."
Makker is prohibited from applying for a new license to practice medicine in the state of Oregon and the results of the investigation were made public through a database of state medical boards, but he is retains the ability to apply for a medical license in another state.
The Oregon medical board received 4 reports in January, February, March and April this year from 4 separate patients who raised complaints about Makker, according to board documents.
Prior to taking Makker’s license, the board in April planted a "neurosurgical mentor" to oversee Makker’s procedures and to evaluate the appropriateness of any procedures before they were conducted.
In 2006 the board had ordered Makker to enroll in the Physicians Evaluation Education & Renewal program of the Oregon Medical Assn., following allegations that the surgeon performed "medically unnecessary" spinal fusions, allegations that Makker neither admitted nor denied.
Makker has been sued by more than 30 patients, including 1 woman who underwent surgery 12 times under Makker’s watch, according to the Wall Street Journal. A handful of lawsuits are also pending against hospitals and surgical centers where Makker operated.
A Medicare database obtained by the Journal found that in 2008 and 2009 Makker performed spinal fusions on more than 60 Medicare patients. 16 of those patients received a total of 24 repeat fusions. Makker performed repeal fusions on 39% of his Medicare patients, according to the database.
"I NEVER try to persuade patients to have surgery," Makker told the Journal in conversations last year. "I always leave it up to the patient and family."