Anil Nanda, MD, a prominent neurosurgeon who was placed on administrative leave from his academic positions at Rutgers University last year amid “ghost surgeries” allegations, has been reinstated as professor of neurosurgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) and New Jersey Medical School (NJMS).
The investigations into Dr. Nanda’s actions focused on a craniotomy and laminectomy that took place on Nov. 4, 2021. During these two cases, according to the investigation’s report, Dr. Nanda was in the OR for the shortest possible amount of time. “Additionally, the fact that Dr. Nanda had a speaking role at a virtual symposium he was hosting on the same day that he had these two procedures makes it appear that he was not prioritizing his patients,” states the report. “Dr. Nanda’s having conflicting responsibilities that day reflects poor decision making and his conduct was contrary to general expectations regarding surgeon practices.”
During the craniotomy, Dr. Nanda reportedly attended a five-minute pre-procedure time out in the OR, then returned to his office in a nearby building and watched a virtual symposium session as the rest of the surgical team administered anesthesia, prepped the patient, made a hole in the patient’s skull and navigated to the location of the brain tumor. Dr. Nanda returned to the OR for three minutes without scrubbing in and observed as surgical residents performed a biopsy, according to the report, which says he then went back to his office and introduced the next session of the virtual symposium. A neurosurgery expert interviewed by investigators was concerned that Dr. Nanda was in the OR for fewer than 10 minutes of the two-hour procedure.
Dr. Nanda did scrub in for the laminectomy, during which he removed part of the patient’s spine, according to the report. He was present for a three-minute time out before the procedure began and was in the OR two more times for a total of seven minutes. “While acknowledging that he was not in the room for more than several minutes, Dr. Nanda stated that he can do this procedure faster than others due to his experience,” state the investigators. “Our expert was skeptical that the critical portion of a laminectomy could be done in eight minutes.”
The outcomes of both procedures were successful and ultimately in compliance with regulations that mandate surgeons be in the OR during the critical phases of procedures, says the report. “The investigation found insufficient evidence to support claims that Dr. Nanda was not present during the critical portions of procedures as required by applicable medical and billing standards,” notes a statement issued by Rutgers University.
Following being placed on the paid leave in November 2021, Rutgers removed Dr. Nanda from his positions as chair of the neurosurgery departments at RWJMS and NJMS and as chief of neurological services at University Hospital in Newark and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. “He is not being restored to any of those management roles nor will he receive compensation related to those roles,” says Rutgers.
The reinstatements to his professorships at RWJMS and NJMS are “subject to his satisfying licensing, medical staff privileging and contractual requirements of his employment agreement,” according to Rutgers. Dr. Nanda will earn $494,671 a year in salary and clinical practice supplements upon his return, when he will be subject to supplemental training and supervision. He earned $2.2 million per year in his previous posts, including clinical revenue, according to Rutgers. Attorneys for Dr. Nanda informed the university in June that he intends to sue for lost wages and other damages.
Michael Critchley Sr., one of Dr. Nanda’s attorneys, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement given to NJ.com, Mr. Critchley says, “The quality of the results of Dr. Nanda’s surgeries is the measuring stick by which he should be judged. Despite the efforts of some disgruntled faculty members and staff to destroy Dr. Nanda’s reputation, [the investigative] report completely exonerates Dr. Nanda of the malicious and false allegations of engaging in ghost surgeries. The report concludes that ghost surgeries never occurred.”Adam Taylor