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Rutgers University Reinstates Neurosurgeon Anil Nanda After Independent Probe Finds No Evidence of ‘Ghost Surgeries’

Rutgers University Reinstates Neurosurgeon Anil Nanda After Independent Probe Finds No Evidence of ‘Ghost Surgeries’

  • The Indian American surgeon, who was head of the Department of Neurosurgery, was placed on paid administrative leave last November, amid allegations about his professional conduct.

An Indian American neurosurgeon at New Jersey’s Rutgers University has been reinstated in his teaching role, the university has announced. Dr. Anil Nanda’s rehiring follows “an investigation by an outside law firm that found insufficient evidence to prove that he performed ghost surgeries,” as reported by nj.com. But the investigation “raised questions about the length of time that Nanda had actually been in the operating room, and whether his actions made it appear that he was not prioritizing his patients,” the nj.com report added. 

Nanda, who was head of the Department of Neurosurgery at Rutgers University’s University Hospital in Newark and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, was placed on paid administrative leave last November, amid allegations about his professional conduct. He was accused of being involved in “ghost surgeries” — the scheduling of multiple operations, parts of which other surgeons may have actually performed or completed. He was also accused of being dishonest about his removal from a chair position at his previous place of employment, Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center Shreveport, during the hiring process at Rutgers.

In a statement sent to nj.com, a university spokesperson confirmed that Rutgers ended Nanda’s administrative leave on Aug. 15, “restoring his faculty position as a professor subject to his satisfying licensing, medical staff privilege, and contractual requirements of his employment agreement.” The statement added that “upon his return, Nanda will also be subject to supplemental training and supervision.” 

However, Nanda is “not being restored to any of his earlier top management roles, nor will he receive compensation related to those former roles,” including his chairmanship of the Departments of Neurosurgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and New Jersey Medical School, and as chief of Neurosurgical Services at University Hospital in Newark and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the spokesperson said in the statement to nj.com. 

Nanda’s attorneys said in a statement sent to nj.com expressed their satisfaction on the result of the investigation. “The quality of the results of Dr. Nanda’s surgeries is the measuring stick by which he should be judged.”

The report, citing Rutgers notes that “prior to being stripped of those major leadership positions, Nanda earned $2.2 million per year, including clinical revenue, making him one of the highest paid employees on the Rutgers payroll.” Now, “his salary as a professor in the Departments of Neurosurgery at the two medical schools will be $494,671, including his academic base salary and clinical practice supplement,” the report added. 

Nanda’s attorneys in a statement sent to nj.com expressed their satisfaction on the result of the investigation. “The quality of the results of Dr. Nanda’s surgeries is the measuring stick by which he should be judged,” said Michael Critchley and Amy Luria of Critchley, Kinum & Luria in Roseland, adding that “despite the efforts of some disgruntled faculty members and staff to destroy Dr. Nanda’s reputation,” the “report completely exonerates” their client “of the malicious and false allegations of engaging in ghost surgeries. The report concludes that ghost surgeries never occurred.”

Prior to joining the New Jersey’s state university in 2018, he served as chairman at Louisiana Medical School’s department of neurosurgery in Shreveport, until he was demoted to a professor role in 2017. At the time, Nanda’s exit was clouded in mystery, but later, local news reports revealed the reasons.

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According to ABC News affiliate KTBS 3, “three investigations uncovered documents from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general,” which revealed that “Nanda had been improperly double-billing for surgeries, including instances where he was not present in the operating room but billed the government as if he were.” No criminal allegations were ever made against Nanda, the KTBS3 report said, adding that during his demotion, LSU Health Shreveport, in a civil settlement with the government, “paid more than $700,000 in fines and restitution.”

Nanda’s Rutgers profile describes him as “a global leader in neurosurgery,” who has held “significant leadership roles in professional organizations.” He graduated in 1982 from the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research at Madras University in Pondicherry.

He completed an internship in surgical oncology from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, followed by a residency in general surgery at Rush–Presbyterian–St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago (now Rush University Medical Center); in neurosurgery at Hahnemann University School of Medicine, Philadelphia; and in pediatric neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He also received a Master of Public Health degree from Harvard.

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