- The action against the Indian American physician comes amid allegations that he performed “ghost surgeries” at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
Dr. Anil Nanda, head of the Department of Neurosurgery at Rutgers University’s two medical schools, has been placed on paid administrative leave amid allegations about his professional conduct. The Indian American is the chief of neurological services at University Hospital in Newark and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.
According to a nj.com report, which broke the news last week, it is not clear as to what sparked the disciplinary action against Nanda. However, confirming the action against the neurosurgeon, Rutgers spokesman Peter McDonough told nj.com that “questions about Dr. Nanda’s conduct at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital” have been brought to the attention of the university as well as the hospital. “Both the university and the hospital will be conducting investigations into the alleged conduct,” he told the news portal.
Meanwhile, two sources familiar with the matter told nj.com that the allegations against Nanda involved ‘ghost surgeries’ — “the scheduling of multiple operations, parts of which other surgeons may have actually performed or completed.”
University officials confirmed to nj.com that the investigation against Nanda will be conducted by a separate law firm. During that time “he will not be providing any clinical, academic, or other services at the university or at any of its affiliated facilities,” until the investigation is complete.
Nanda joined Rutgers in 2018, from Louisiana Medical School’s department of neurosurgery in Shreveport, where he served as chairman 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.
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.”
After he accepted the Rutgers job, Nanda posted a statement earlier this week on a Change.org petition started by others encouraging his reinstatement as chairman of the neurosurgery department at the LSU medical school in Shreveport. He wrote about “the wonderful 27 years” he had at LSU. “Twenty-eight years ago on a cold Pittsburgh morning, an avuncular southern gentleman called me about an opportunity in Louisiana,” he wrote. “I remember being flippant with him, saying, ‘Do you really want a Hindu boy and his Yankee wife in the Bible Belt?’ That quintessential southern gentleman was John McDonald, chairman of surgery, who recruited me to Louisiana and had a life-changing impact on me.”
At Rutgers, Nanda was hired on a $2.2 million salary, the nj.com report revealed, making him “one of the highest paid employees at Rutgers.” He is also senior vice president of neurological services at RWJ Barnabas Health, a health services partner of Rutgers. When he was recruited by Rutgers, Nanda was hailed by university officials as someone who would strategically advance Rutgers’ preeminence in the neurosciences
“Since his arrival, however, dozens of faculty, nurses and support staff have left or have been terminated,” nj.com reported, citing former colleagues. The report also cited a lawsuit filed in May by a clinical assistant professor and co-director of pediatric neurological surgery who “charged that she had been a victim of a ‘toxic work environment’ orchestrated by Nanda. He has denied those allegations through his attorney, the nj.com report added.
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. “The anatomy of the brain fascinated him during his first year of medical school, and he set his sights on becoming a neurosurgeon,” the profile says. 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.