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Unnecessary Surgery: Spine Surgeon Indicted on 10 Federal Counts Faces 125 Years

A federal grand jury indicted Dr. Abubakar Durrani, 44, on 10 counts of unnecessarily performing spinal surgeries on patients and billing private and public health insurance companies for millions of dollars of fraudulent services. The indictment includes five counts of health care fraud and five counts of making false statements in health care cases. According to the indictment, as a result of Durrani’s fraudulent procedures, some of Durrani’s 300 patients suffered serious injuries. Furthermore, Durrani made false statements to patients about unnecessary medical procedures.

Investigators said Durrani told patients that they urgently needed unnecessary procedures and they may suffer further if they did not undergo surgery. “For cervical spine patients, Durrani would often tell a patient that there was a risk of paralysis or the head would fall off if the patient was in a car accident because there was almost nothing attaching the head to the patient’s body,” the indictment states.

The Cincinnati spine surgeon was arrested by federal agents July 25 and faces 125 years in federal prison if he is convicted on all counts. While he is still able to perform surgery at his Evendale center, Durrani is not allowed in several Tri-state hospitals.

According to a USA Today investigation, thousands of Americans across the country are undergoing surgeries that are completely unnecessary. After reviewing information from government records and medical databases, USA Today concluded that unnecessary surgeries may account for 10 to 20 percent of all operations in some specialties. This includes a wide range of cardiac procedures — not only stents, but also angioplasty and pacemaker implants — as well as many spinal surgeries. According to a review of in-depth studies and data generated by both government and academic sources, knee replacements, hysterectomies, and cesarean sections are among the other surgical procedures performed more often than needed

Academic studies have discovered high rates of unnecessary surgery, particularly in spinal and cardiac operations. A 2011 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed records for 112,000 patients who had an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), a pacemaker-like device that corrects heartbeat irregularities. In 22.5% of the cases, researchers found no medical evidence to support installing the devices. Another 2011 study, in the journal Surgical Neurology International, evaluated 274 patients with neck and back complaints over a one-year period: More than 17% had been told they needed surgery but had no neurological or radiographic findings that indicated an operation was necessary.

Since 2005, more than 1,000 doctors have paid to settle or close malpractice claims in which patients allege they received a surgery they did not need. About half those settlements involved allegations of “serious permanent injury or death.” Furthermore, since many of the cases had multiple plaintiffs, thousands of Americans may be victims of this type of medical oversight.

Rather than simply taking one doctor’s word about surgery, encouraging patients to seek a second opinion can help. Previous studies have found that requiring a mandatory second opinion leads to a 20 percent drop in certain surgeries that tend to have a higher rate of unnecessary procedures. Consumer protection tools, like public lists of common unnecessary tests and procedures, can also help patients think critically about whether to agree to what their doctor is recommending.

If you or a loved one has been injured by medical malpractice it is important to understand your rights and your legal options. It is also important to note that 93% of medical malpractice cases settle before trial- lessening the potential time that it will take you to recover for your injuries. If you have been subject to unnecessary surgery and/or injured, you need to contact a medical malpractice attorney at the Dolman law group. We have experience holding physicians accountable for their mistakes. Please call us today so that we can help you with this difficult and sensitive issue. Initial consultations are free and confidential. Call today: 727-451-6900