In April of 2011, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article about one V. James Makker, formerly a practicing neurosurgeon in Oregon. The article identified that the former doctor had performed multiple spine fusions on patients, 10 times the national average, at that time Makker was being investigated by the FBI and the Medical Board for the state. At a meeting on September 24th, 2012, the Board and Makker have agreed that it was time for the former neurosurgeon to leave the medical profession. What is fascinating with the pomp and circumstance of stripping away his right to practice medicine is that the deal includes Mr. Makker denying he has done anything wrong. So why didn't he fight the Board's demands?
In 2006, the laissez-faire Oregon Medical Board had investigated Makker and accused him of inappropriate and unnecessary billing, unnecessary surgeries, misleading statements, and "gross or repeated negligence." His punishment? New training and an audit of his billing to settle the case. In retrospect, the patients that have been harmed should probably consider suing the Oregon Medical Board that handed down this decision for negligence. If the foxes are protecting the hen house, how is John Q. Public protected? Makker has agreed to provisions in the settlement that he can never reapply for the privilege to practice medicine in Oregon, and that this finding will be reported to every state in the union making it unlikely that he will ever practice medicine legally in the United States.
Mr. Makker's response on his LinkedIn page was even more troubling, to paraphrase, "my success generated jealousy, I was slandered, etc., etc. So here is TSB's suggestion to the Board of Directors at NASS, rather than toast yourselves at this years meeting, patting one another on the back, telling each other how great you are, or about the next big deal you signed with some POD or some desperate company, a moment of silence and reflection may be needed on why you really entered the art of medicine. You are "entitled" to be compensated commensurate for your skill sets, but at the same time, somewhere back in time you took an oath to practice medicine ethically and honestly, who knows, it might do some of you some good. But then, it may not. You should be thankful that you have a career that other people envy, but at the same time, as a member of that exclusive club, it doesn't give you the right to do whatever you can within the confines of the law to potentially make someone worse at the expense of padding your personal wallet.
In closing, maybe Mr. Makker will take the time to come to grips with his own realities. He had the world and the health of his patients in the palm of his hands, only to have it taken away by the type of behavior that gives a great profession a very bad name. Does a man or an industry have the ability to change its innate nature? Rather than be critical of the current environment and the debate that surrounds all Americans regarding healthcare, we should be asking ourselves questions, whether the actions of the few permeate and delude our perceptions of what is right and what is wrong? Do we justify our behaviors by income rationalization? TSB wants to know what our readers think?