Providence Portland Medical Center has revoked the surgical privileges of Dr. Vishal James Makker amidst concerns that Dr. Makker performed spinal-fusion surgeries at a rate of 10 times the national average. The hospital declined to say why they withdrew Dr. Makker’s surgical privileges.
The revocation of Makker’s privileges come in the wake of a Wall Street Journal article written by John Carreyrou and Tom McGinty. The article published on March 29, 2011 Medicare Records Reveal Troubling Trail of Surgeries analyzed Dr. Makker’s surgical record. They found that Makker had an “unusual propensity” for performing multiple spine surgeries and then billing Medicare.
Between 2008 and 2009, The Wall Street Journal revealed that Dr. Makker performed spinal fusions on 61 Medicare patients and on 16 patients, he performed 24 additional surgeries.
The Wall Street Journal has been combing Medicare’s database in search of physicians who defraud the taxpaper and Medicare system. The WSJ identified Maker as one physician who had an “unusual pattern of care.” The WSJ wants access to Medicare records which would provide information on which physicians are billing Medicare the most and may be over-billing Medicare.
The WSJ article also described a relationship that Dr. Makker had with a distributor of spinal implants. Some medical device distributors pay surgeons a dividend for using their products which some people say may skew medical decision making.
The concern here is that Dr. Makker put his on personal profit motive ahead of his professional ethics and what was best for his patients..
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